Today while bicycling I met a chap named Austin. He's probably about 25 - 30 years of age, an avid surfer and self-proclaimed athlete. He showed me on his iPhone photos of himself in surfing gear in the year 2000 complete with what he called "sun bleached" hair. He originally hailed from Minnesota but has been living in Florida since 1989. We encountered one another when I was wheeling my bike off the beach onto an access in Wilbur-by-the-Sea where he had been gazing at the sea. I had detoured my jaunt to Ponce Inlet because the tide was rapidly rising and I knew the sand would soon become soft and impassable if I did not take advantage of the opportune exit. Austin opened the communication by asking whether I had enjoyed my bicycle ride, to which I replied affirmatively. "This", he said, "is what snowbirds pay big bucks to enjoy." I confessed I was among the accused. It came as no small surprise to learn that when Austin is not surfing he is a "promoter" - and as an exemplification he stuck out his hand while holding a can of some toxic energy drink like Red Bull while at the same time rehearsing his introductory lines to deliver to the anticipated hordes of bikers and car racers which are predicted to decend upon this area. At the same time he emphasized the tranquillity and safety of Daytona Beach, Daytona Beach Shores, Wilbur-by-the-Sea and Ponce Inlet. As well he spoke of the need for civility among its denizens, supplementing the gambit with his assurance that the Lord and the Bible were part of his life. I preferred not to engage on that particular topic. Finally he punctuated his observations by distinguishing this area from Mexico and El Salvador (which was serdendipitous because I afterwards heard on the evening news that President Donald J. Trump had pronounced El Salvador et al. as "shit hole countries"). Austin clearly associated certain places on earth with criminality and violence (though he was careful to exclude Costa Rica from the condemnation - he had lately been there for reasons he did not mention). Austin wound up our conversation by excusing himself to visit his mother and to wish me "God bless!" as he departed.
Over the past three months we have cast a glance upon other places in Florida to roost . But we're committed here for another year. Historically we spent seven years on Hilton Head Island before abandoning it. There is some stability in holding the line. But at our age we're not about to stand on ceremony. Sure the thought of winging it to Sardinia is not unimagineable but I'd prefer to stay on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. The burden of age is its lack of malleability but I am satisfied to capitulate on that account without conceding utter shallowness.
There were other idle thoughts filtering through my head as I peered into the foggy distance. I can't pretend that these ramblings approached anything ethereal. With the burgeoning warmth and sunshine comes the appetite for sensory detail generally, an awakening to the nature's munificence. We are blessed to be able to indulge our longings. Undeniably being à côté de la mer is for me the height of achievement.