Thursday, October 25, 2018

Collection of Daily Anecdotes

Today's tales don't qualify as shaggy-dog stories but they are reminiscences, a sketch of life on Longboat Key. When traveling abroad there is an inclination to latch onto events which rise above the mundane occurrences of living. But with only infrequent exception that is precisely where the action is. It is besides these seemingly uninspiring episodes which provide the real fodder of account.

"Longboat Key is a town in Manatee and Sarasota counties along the central west coast of the U.S. state of Florida, located on and coterminous with the barrier island of the same name. Longboat Key is south of Anna Maria Island, between Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico."

My venture this morning began as usual with a bicycle ride in the neighbourhood. The Gulf of Mexico Drive is the central passageway along the barrier island from Sarasota at the south to Anna Maria Island at the north. There are occasional inroads to specific communities on either side of the Gulf of Mexico Drive but primarily those communities are gated. Even when the side-streets are accessible they are largely short connections to either parks or marinas adjacent Sarasota Bay. To preserve some measure of length and endurance therefore I tend to stick to the sidewalks adjoining the Gulf of Mexico Drive. It is easy to calculate one's progress because there are markers along the way which signify "1000 Block", "2000 Block", etc.  Today I rode up to the commencement of the "5000 Block". While cycling there my iPhone rang.  It was a call from a legal assistant at my lawyer's office.  The enquiry however wasn't concerning my personal affairs but rather the apparent disappearance of an elderly friend and former client. The law clerk sought my suggestion as to a possible destination of my friend.  As we pondered the matter, the law clerk was interrupted and advised by an associate that the gentleman had been located and therefore the crisis was averted.

After returning to the condominium we drove to Publix grocery store to gather provisions. We there discovered that a small piece of plastic molding on the rear passenger window of the car had become detached. As I had previously identified a local Lincoln dealership, I called the office and arranged to attend in the early afternoon.  The service advisor was extremely helpful. In addition to having a replacement part ordered I also had the oil changed and the car washed. Though naturally I do not relish automotive maintenance I was nonetheless glad to have had the opportunity to visit the dealership and acquaint myself with its people and location. Furthermore the shop is located not far from Siesta Key where my erstwhile physician is currently visiting.

By coincidence upon our return home I received a telephone call from my physician inviting us to join him and his lady for lunch tomorrow. He is a long-time visitor to the area and has a superior familiarity with what transpires here. He advised that the red tide is threatening to return, contrary to what I had been told by a retailer as recently as yesterday.

"The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation is reporting a sharp increase in red tide in the Gulf of Mexico off Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key, reversing recent declines in the presence of the afflicting algae."

The Bradenton Herald, October 25, 2018

Thus far my time hasn't been spent on the beach. No doubt it is a reflection of my decline that I find myself preferring the pool instead, not having to deal with powdered sand, annoying beach bugs and the challenge of setting up chaises longues and umbrellas. The minor threat of red tide also depletes some of my current enthusiasm for the sea. Knowing that we have months before us to enjoy the beach I am not in any particular rush. Given the very recent heat wave I am not at all surprised that a reappearance of the algae bloom is threatened. Its only immediate annoyance may be a contamination of the coastal air causing respiratory irritation and coughing.

We maintain regular communication with family in Canada. The unfolding drama of life is perhaps more apparent there as we adjust to the anticipated demise of my elderly mother who recently suffered a stroke. While the occasion is certainly not uplifting we have the satisfaction of knowing that my mother has had a long and fulsome life. The diminution has prompted my nieces (her granddaughters) to share memories of their own which capture the assurance of longevity in the midst of irreversible change. There has been the revitalization of moments of the past with which even my sister and I were unfamiliar. I have no doubt as well that the inevitability of becoming orphans has affected my sister and me as we contemplate of our own mortality and related estate planning. I can't pretend that these heady topics are thoroughly pleasant; but neither am I prepared to succumb to their toxicity without an eye to surmounting the prospect, if not the peril.

Meanwhile the media continue to bludgeon us with escalating adversity between the left and the right, liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican, east and west and everything in between. It seems preposterous to assume that somehow humanity will rise above its centuries of hostility.  The current addiction to theatrics and entertainment has ensured that narrow thinking and easy differences are the nutrition of the day. But it all puts us uncomfortably at opposite ends. It requires separation from the abstraction of philosophy and instead the absorption of immediacy. I remain convinced of the capacity of mankind in spite of its shallow abbreviations.

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