Lido Key lies between Longboat Key and Siesta Key. Like Longboat Key and neighbouring Bird Key, Lido Key is primarily residential with the important notation of nearby St. Armands Circle (a collection of putative upscale retail stores) which however is actually an independent island. I rode my bicycle to Lido Key (4.7 miles) this morning to acquaint myself with the area. It is highly accessible and essentially a maze of quiet streets adjacent the Gulf of Mexico and Sarasota Bay, with public beaches and facilities and a large park at its southern end. It houses the Ritz Carlton Residences which are unquestionably lavish. A late model Rolls Royce pulled out of the property as I rode by.
The extensive development of public beaches and facilities rather surprised me - though I am gradually becoming adjusted to the local phenomenon. There were workers on the beach this morning engaged in serious heavy-equipment work. A sizeable public pool was open for business, complete with what appeared to be life guards. As always the grounds were inviting and well maintained.
As much as I adore the decidedly parochial nature of Longboat Key I confess that the lack of traffic and related tranquillity of Lido Key have their appeal. I suspect that during the height of "the season" things get terribly busy but today was otherwise. I sat in the park overlooking Sarasota Bay. There were only a few other people scattered about at distant picnic tables or benches. An oddly over-dressed portly woman walked along the beach.
As I retraced my steps back towards the interior (and St. Armands Circle), the activity, crowds and traffic picked up but everything was maintained at a posted low speed of 25 mph. There were many interesting stores which I may perhaps visit another time. Today the over-riding preoccupation was however exercise and mobility.
The ride back over the bridge to Longboat Key was very pleasant along a wide sidewalk on which cyclists are not made to feel they are encroaching upon pedestrians. When I reached the southern gate of Longboat Club Road (on which we reside) I continued along Gulf of Mexico Drive to the north limit of Longboat Key where it connects to Bradenton Beach (about 9.5 miles). In total I'm guessing I rode about 24 miles today. For whatever reason - perhaps the novelty of the ride, the fair weather, my cooperative digestion - I didn't feel much reluctance to undertake this slightly longer ride than normal. Nonetheless I stopped at Bayfront Park to rest for 15 minutes before returning home. I like to check my email as well. A friend from British Columbia had written to advise that her husband is now undergoing palliative care - which is medical code for "the end is near", accompanied by the customary comfort care and pain relief. I know from experience that the physicians do not make that decision without good purpose; and, that the nursing staff do everything to make the patient's final hours on the face of this earth as easy as possible. It also usually marks the end of one era and the start of another; it's a juncture of uncommon significance in most cases, often combined with both regret and relief for all concerned, both the dying and the living.
As I made my way back leisurely to Longboat Club Road I marvelled as always at the exceedingly idyllic environment in which we have the privilege and pleasure to reside. Longboat Key gives Florida's boastful claim as the "Sunshine State" new meaning! The last time I encountered such mercurial rain and sunshine was in Jamaica, another small island which likewise succumbs to the unpredictable changes in the skies. I passed a gentleman walking on the sidewalk, smoking a cigar. The smell inspired me. Cigar smoking on the beaches or in maritime areas generally in Florida (especially Key West) is very popular, an innocent pleasure which I have many times contemplated reactivating (though it would instantly terminate my Term Life insurance for which I have paid so handsomely for the past forty years or more). It does however make me question whether I have more to gain by sustaining the policy benefit (obviously for someone else's advantage) or foregoing the premium payments now and enhancing my life with a good smoke for my remaining days! I characterize the indulgence as less precipitous than recapturing my erstwhile affection for a frozen martini. For the time being at least I shall continue to embrace my palliative resources in what I dignify as functional mechanical devices like cars, time pieces and compasses. Apart from those materialisms I have exhausted any other motivation (admittedly plagued by the shallowness of acquisition and what it may say about one's spiritual vacuity).
Accordingly I contented myself with the blunt resolve to stash my bike, collect my beach towel and change into a swim suit then head to the sandy shore for some late afternoon frying. Not exactly a tough call!