It wasn't the catharsis of a worship service which propelled me on my bicycle this Sunday morning to Bradenton Beach on the southern part of Anna Maria Island. Indeed I marvel that in spite of the lack of spiritual impetus I made it that far, I'm guessing about seven miles one way. No doubt it was naught more poignant than an uncommonly restful sleep last night. In any event by this accident of nature I have now completed my absorption of the various societal channels on Longboat Key, end to end. The southern portion (where we reside) has frequent nautical themes (Privateer, Yardarm, Harbour Point, Aquarius Club, Neptune, Seahorse Beach, Pelican Harbour); the northern portion has a Spanish element (Laguna, de Narvaez, Juan Anasco, Reclinata, Casa del Mar). The social shift from south to north is likewise apparent, fewer gated communities and residences (though as many prominent seaside mansions) and more (though perpetually moderate) commercial activity. If one were to progress to Holmes Beach (the centre municipality of Anna Maria Island) the popular vernacular is instantly apparent.
Longboat Pass (the draw bridge to Bradenton Beach) is reminiscent of the stream of towering bridges to Key West, emerald waters on both sides. Yet no matter from which end one travels on this barrier island we now call home, the vistas and raptness are both magnificent and undeniable. Contemporaneously with my incremental adjustment here I am accepting the novelty of residing in the centre of the continent in the summer and near its southern extremity in the winter. At times I imagine that we are deliberately provoking the respective governments of the two countries (though I similarly surmise the equality of our contributions to the federal coffers and the state treasury). Residency - as with any existence - involves service to someone.
As captivated and drawn in as I am by the local scene, pedalling some 14 miles alone on a narrow margin affords the opportunity to reflect. At times my consignment is no further abroad than those who pass me by, either coming or going, whether walking, cycling or driving. My retort and report are both mercurial, sometimes up, sometimes down. Unpredictably people can be either welcoming or closeted. And just when I am on the threshold of developing a strategy for assessing racing cyclists or attractive young women or BMW owners, one comes along to foil my stereotype. When for a moment I managed to rise above my petty commentary to my audience of one, I brooded about the people I have known and the things that I have done - though I am sure with equal irregularity and failing accuracy. Lingering on the past is guaranteed to be never more revealing than the report of a car accident by five different witnesses from five different angles (proven many times over to be utterly contradictory). We similarly look at the same event or relationship from changed circumstance and posture. But the casting back nonetheless quells our latent anxiety and perhaps softens our recollections.
Later by the pool I reiterated the same theses among a different crowd of people. Maintaining generosity is the only sure model; otherwise one's own conclusions are mere nets before one's feet, altogether a very undignified and depreciating result.
We recovered from this reverence by succumbing to the pleasures of the flesh; specifically corn salad and Key Lime pie at Harry's Continental Kitchen. Once again my natural inclinations beaconed with lively repercussion, reminding me as always that the best sauce for any meal is an appetite. On the way home I diverted momentarily to one of several public beach accesses and scored some snaps of the rich late afternoon tonic.