Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sunday Morning Breakfast on Longboat Key

As I sat at the dining room table this Sunday morning munching my very agreeable breakfast, staring out the patio window of our suite onto the Gulf of Mexico, I thought how exceedingly fortunate the opportunity is. We're nestled on a sandy stretch at the southern tip of Longboat Key. The weather - though moderately cool today - is clear and sunny.  I attach especial significance to this day because it is the last day of my 69th year.  Tomorrow I turn 69 and spookily begin my 70th year!  Yikes!  Small wonder it is the mainspring for celebration!

For as long as I can remember I have taken breakfast every day of my life.  Like so many other of my recollections the initial awakening to the drama (and routine) of life was my arrival at boarding school at St. Andrew's College when I was fourteen years old. Perhaps being suddenly on my own, with my family living three thousand miles away in Europe, I felt the acuteness of my circumstances and all that transpired about me. At school the boys assembled each morning in the Great Hall for breakfast. The habit appears to have stuck because I never abandoned it.

Putting on the nosebag in the morning developed into a social necessity and an undeniable propensity when at the age of twenty-seven years I began practicing law in the Town of Almonte (another critically important demarcation in my life). There a confederacy of local businessmen foregathered at the Superior Restaurant for breakfast five days each week, Monday to Friday.  Aside from being a superlative rendition of the repast (and by the way a frequent source of comic relief), the custom ensured that I began each day with something in my gut to fortify me for what at times were very long hours of work often extending into the early hours of the next morning.  Naturally rubbing shoulders with other entrepreneurs was as well a useful tactical move.  Besides which I developed life-long friendships which continue to sustain me to this day.

It is illustrative of the magnanimity of life to record what I ate for breakfast today. It began as usual with hot, black coffee and sliced wedges of a fresh Navel orange.  This citrus boost invariably introduces my day and permits me to troll upon my computer, checking email, the latest news, the weather and the tides and often tweaking things I previously wrote in one of my four blogs (only one of which any longer bears any resemblance to being "active").  I also chewed several bits of raw turmeric root which I am assured by my hair stylist will relieve my arthritic pain.

After having spent a leisurely hour adjusting to the daybreak, I began preparation of the protein feature of my matutinal meal.  Today my partner had already undertaken the slow cooking of the "green" (additive-free) bacon I purchased at Publix grocery store when we arrived on Longboat Key. The tantalizing smell of the bacon had nurtured my interest throughout the morning - reminding me that while the best sauce for any meal is an appetite, one must never underestimate the engagement of smell which promotes the taste buds.

When we shopped for our provisions at the grocery store we sought to orchestrate our haul to correspond with what we anticipated needing for the next six days we are here.  As inevitably happens we quite possibly exaggerated our requirements.  Accordingly we are already starting to accelerate our consumption.  This morning's breakfast reflected that burgeoning preoccupation with calculated amortization.  My plate - when fully assembled - included five jumbo shrimp, numerous slices of Blackforest ham, four pieces of Vermont Old Cheddar cheese, two fried eggs and a mountain of crisp bacon.  Oddly even after having consumed such a plentious meal I find that protein never leaves me feeling uncomfortably full and afterwards I shamefully contemplate stealing a few more pieces of bacon from the larder!

Nonetheless in the spirit of athleticism and to maintain our sylphlike figures we're about to throw ourselves onto our bicycles (which my ever-industrious partner has already expropriated from the corral by the pool onto our patio).  We presently intend to wander northwards along the Gulf of Mexico Drive parallel to the sea.  Afterwards we shall swim in the pool and perhaps absorb some of that nutritious sunshine.

We left our suite shortly before noon winding our way on our bicycles along the picturesque and elegant Longboat Club Road to the security gate at the Gulf of Mexico Drive.  From there it was one continuous trek along the Gulf of Mexico Drive which essentially cuts through the centre of the barrier island from one end to the other (not unlike Midnight Pass Road which similarly bisects nearby Siesta Key). Longboat Key is another of the singular barrier islands. Though it is small and accesible like all the others (such as Kiawah Island, Hilton Head Island, Tybee Island, Jekyll Island, St. Simons Island, Amelia Island and Daytona Beach Shores), Longboat Key similarly has its own distinctive feel, what I consider a casual up-scale character, certainly not as stuffy as Boca Raton or Naples for example. Longboat Key is universally well-maintained.  And it has kept its cozy "friendly" tone peculiar to most small places.

The scenery along Gulf of Mexico Drive is predictable.  On the Gulf side it is exclusively beach condominiums and private residences, many of which are grand.  On the opposite "bay" side (Sarasota Bay) it is a combination of condominiums, single-family residences, golf courses, yacht clubs and commercial centres (some of which are modern but tasteful malls, others smaller convenience-style outlets more in the nature of boutiques).

Unexpectedly we ran across a park (with facilities including both a unisex water closet and a contraption from which hung various tools and pumps for bicycle repair). There were also at least two beach access points open to the public.

At the public beach access points there were young people flowing to and from the Gulf.  Some were young lovers taking in the sites; others were devoted surfers.  Before we detoured off Gulf of Mexico Drive onto the shore we met a man named Cal who has lived here for the past twenty-five years.  He used to work as an entertainer in Key West performing tunes by Jimmy Buffett and Rod Stewart (though he says he was often addressed as "Rod"). Cal told us he also liked doing Elton John.  Now he is 77 years old, quite svelte and was formerly president of his local condominium association.  When we enquired about vacation rentals in the area, Cal interestingly informed us that "there is something for everyone" on Longboat Key.  This sentiment was later echoed at the Resort by the pool-girl who lives in what she characterized as the "old" area of Longboat Key (though she was as quick to proclaim her interest in the mulit-million dollar homes bordering the golf course).

Though we didn't make it all the way to Bradenton Beach, the one-way cycle was about 10 miles.  We arrived back at the Resort around 3:30 pm.  After a restorative cup of coffee we went immediately to the pool where we paddled about for an hour and then boiled ourselves briefly in the hot tub.

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