Friday, April 22, 2011

Highway Drive

I found myself behind a T100 Bonneville toiling south on Highway One. this is what a Triumph Bonneville looks like on the Overseas Highway. A Triumph without luggage except for that uncomfortable pack on his back. I hate riding with luggage on my bike. Cool motor bike though.Sometimes as I haul my hairy family member around on the back seat I wish I could be less reliant on the car and be out there all the time on the motor bike. Yet those times I do find myself on the road riding next to other bikes there is a vaguely uncomfortable feeling for me. I'm never quite sure how to behave. Do I acknowledge them? I usually wave when I overtake them but I am not sure how to acknowledge someone riding just in front or behind me. It is a conundrum. I had chosen to leave the house underneath one of the small temporary rain clouds that seem to be descending from time to time over the Keys. These clouds drop by, unload a slight sprinkle of water, and promptly disappear into a cloudless blue sky. Cheyenne doesn't much mind the rain.The fun part about being stuck in traffic on the highway in a car is when you stop, and Cheyenne gets out and takes off like a four legged vacuum cleaner.Standing there reading the newspaper watching Cheyenne trundle back and forth with her nose down, there is time enough to notice the loud thumping Harleys rumbling by and wondering how it would be to be a visitor on a short time line in the Keys. Today I'm forced to drive the car but tonight, when i go to work, and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow I'll have my time on two wheels on the prettiest road in America.

Sugarloaf Drive 2

I usually get up around noon when I was working the night before, and one of the great blessings of night shift is I don't have an alarm clock in my life. After I wake up and splash some water on my face I do my physical jerks as mandated by my wife's personal trainer who we go and visit from time to time and who keeps us on our toes as it were. Then I have breakfast or lunch and then, like it or not, I find this large yellow Lab with big brown eyes sitting in front of me with her big yellow tail flapping slowly from side to side. I cannot escape, it is time for a walk.That I took Cheyenne out in the pre-dawn coolness some six hours earlier for a romp as soon as I got home has nothing to do with it. That it is 90 degrees outside with a bright crisp sun doesn't affect her one bit. She is primed for a walk and it is her time and she knows it. I load her into the car and try to figure where best to take her.
(The sign in the photo above said, No Trespassing, as though I might otherwise be some kind of pole vaulter of Olympic aspirations ready to bounce over the perimeter to do harm to the occupants).When it's hot I aim for some kind of inhabited area, a place with houses and a place where other dogs may have walked to increase the proportion of interesting smells she might meet in a short distance. On this walk at Sugarloaf Drive Cheyenne dived into the bushes and came back triumphant.Dried fish for elevenses.

Sugarloaf Drive 1

I know I was made to live in this kind of climate. I can't get over how much I like the shiny green of the palm fronds, the clear blue of the sky and the white cotton wool balls of cloud scudding away pushed by the strong southeast winds. Sugarloaf Drive,a straight line south from US Highway One at Mile Marker 17 is one of those ultra suburban subdivisions. The lots are large and spacious, the houses are a wild mixture of larger nicely built homes in all styles and shapes and there is so much greenery it's a suburban forest.And now the snowbirds have leaked away back Up North for a sweltering airless summer on the Great Plains, Sugarloaf Drive's pleasant meandering sidewalk is devoid of traffic so Cheyenne and I could wander at will.

Some people complain of heat and humidity or of mosquitoes and cockroaches or whatever else ails them about Flatistan, but I take one look at some greenery, some blue sky and some puffy white clouds overhead.

And I'm glad to be here.

Little Palm Ferry

I was on the bridge looking south across Newfound harbor when this flotilla of small boats materialized, coming straight at me. It looked like a race. The little white fiberglass boats rushed off ahead leaving the rather majestic, by comparison, Little Palm ferry. The whole Little Palm experience starts with the launch service from Little Torch Key.
I haven't been to Little Palm in while but I did write up this essay the last time my wife and I went: the photo below you can see Little Palm Island as a distant smear and the southeast corner of Little Torch in the foreground. It's not a long ferry ride, no more than 15 minutes and it is relaxing enough I wouldn't mind if it were longer.Sometimes when I stand on a bridge and watch the boats plough by underneath me I wonder if they look up and think" Poor guy, stuck on land..." and I myself wonder if I will ever go back to living on the water, Or, more accurately if i will go back to living on a boat voluntarily.
As it stands my little 14-foot skiff is refurbished and ready to go back in the water. These days that's all I need, a solid motor, a smooth hull, no electronics or lights, and a body of smooth open water to fly across at twenty miles an hour. Then we toss out the anchor my wife and I and go for a swim with the wide open water and sky as a backdrop to our salt water swimming pool. Just like this:
Devoid of boats as suddenly as they appeared, the protected waters of Newfound Harbor go flat and inviting once again. I think I'd envy the boats if I didn't have my Dusky 14 at home at my dock. If you think you might have a small fortune to spare ($1500 a night in the winter season I'm told) you could try rubbing shoulders with the one percent of Americans who are making out like bandits in this Depression and can still afford to indulge themselves at Little Palm. Or do as I do and go for brunch once in every while, expensive but doable and quite delicious.

Feast For The Living

How I ask myself, did every single holiday (Holy Day) in the calendar become an opportunity for corporations to make more money? I don't go shopping much but even I can see the cycles of shopping, we lurch from one manufactured celebration to the next, Valentine's, Independence Day, Halloween, you name it, secular, religious, mythical the Hallmark brigade manages to debase it in the name of commerce in a perpetual cycle. Now it's Easter's turn.The Citizen had a full page devoted to advertising Easter Gluttony rituals and I read the ads with awe. Wedged in between the small print ads for actual religious services, the chain restaurants competed with local eateries for the discerning Easter Feast dollar. How a bunny rabbit became part of the American celebration of easter is a bizarre enough story as it originated in the Franco-German province of Alsace.
I had Easter eggs as a child in Europe but the Spring Fertility of rabbits and hares was not a subject for discussion. I was taught that Easter is the most sacred holiday in the Christian calendar as everyone gets born (Christmas) but getting resurrected is a rather more exclusive club. Yet as easter bears down upon us I find myself wondering how people allow the message of this most holy day to get polluted by the concept of stuffing your face on Sunday. 80 percent of people in the US claim religious affiliation and most of them are Christians they tell us (I'm in the other twenty percent who wonder how anyone can believe any of this). Resurrection is best celebrated thusly apparently: Early Christians did a bang up job of appropriating pre-Christian feast days, days when people ate meat to celebrate because the rest of the time they supped on gruel, so we now celebrate Christmas during the darkest time of the year, even though the Romans never held census counts in mid winter, we celebrate Spring Fertility with the Resurrection preceded by Lenten self denial. Self denial is over baby, time to stuff the face.I loved the next ad I found in the paper. No one wants to be left out. The Orthodox crowd can't bring themselves to join reality so they plunge on through the centuries mis-counting the days by forgetting to add a quarter day each year and their holidays slip further and further behind everyone else's. The Orthodox are currently about two weeks behind the rest of us but they are not going to be left out of this weekend's extravaganza.
If the prospect of resurrection isn't enough there is a chance for a free lunch. It's nice to see Glad Tidings which has done so much for the poor of the community stepping up. Naturally they got lots of grief for helping the dispossessed, encouraging the bums and so forth so the focus is now on families. My wife was bummed this week, when Passover and Easter came close together (the Jews follow an altogether bizarre calendar that seems more whimsical to an outsider than mathematical) and she didn't get around to organizing a Passover Seder for her goy friends. Blame the Florida standardized school tests, the FCATs, which have every teacher massively stressed this time of year. I wish I were a Jew but I'm not. They don't advertise, they don't seek to convert people and they just do their thing without fanfare or apology, centered on family and friends (and Elijah!) and far from the halls of commerce. They have their quirks too, as my wife is not allowed into their conservative synagogue, the oldest in Florida, even if she wanted to join, because she committed the cardinal sin of marrying outside the tribe. It's hard for me to believe that any God worth their salt would dream up so many pettifogging rules to be a member of the club. And don't forget at three o'clock this afternoon a moment of silence to mark the time when, it is said God died. Ignoring the iPhone for two minutes will be trial enough for most, no doubt, in our only nominally religious world.