This is the first part of a two-part experiment.
I am going away on a vacation to Saint Lucia; I have done all the research and reading on this lush, tropical island in the West Indies. The brochures picture a romantic escape with snorkeling, windsurfing, sailing, kayaking, tennis, a squash court, a spa, a swim-up bar, banana boat rides, aerobics, beach volleyball and cooking classes.
Over three weeks have passed since the tragedies of March 11 and I’m still having trouble sleeping. I dream about tsunamis washing bodies ashore as I search for familiar faces among the dead. I feel the room is swaying when it’s not and wake up in a cold sweat. I lie awake thinking about the radiation seeping into the soil, water and food supply and my heart races. Although the quake/tsunami/radiation news may not be the top story overseas right now, it is the only thing on our minds here in Japan.
I realize that at my age (over 60) I should be reading great books and filling my off hours with intellectual and enlightening methods of erudition.
However, at the end of the day I find myself yearning for relaxing and mindless activities. During my lifetime I have studied many of the great Shakespeare plays, read James Joyce’s Ulysses, studied U.S. and world history, and written over 600 essays. Evening is the time to get on the couch, slow down and unwind.
Juiced’ by Florida Wetlands’ Big Birds
On a cool afternoon this past January I went birding with my wife and two close friends. We start in the heart of a Sarasota industrial park exploring a waterway, which attracts big birds. On one shore an anhinga, partially in shadow, has its black wings outstretched to dry, prominently displaying a white lined pattern on its back. Nicknamed the “water turkey,” the anhinga takes fish underwater. Their long straight necks, long bills, long straight-edged tails and silvery, white-lined back and wing pattern make anhingas striking. This lone bird’s brown hue suggests that it is probably immature. The anhinga’s dark mustard colored, webbed feet look like they are made from sturdy, Army-Navy store canvas. I’m “juiced,” as I rarely see an anhinga.
Two winter weary Jericho couples, the Greenes and the Greenbergs, arrive at JFK airport for a trip to the Dominican Republic. Punta Cana on the eastern end of the island of Hispaniola is the final destination. Paradisus Palma Real Resort is the name of the hotel. The plan is called A.I.P. or all-inclusive plan.
Everything was paid for up front. Not once did we reach into our pockets to pay for a meal. We ate, thanked the waiters and left. No figuring out the tip or the bill. It was a strange sensation for Long Islanders. At a bar the bartender plunked down an entire bottle of Absolut vodka and told us to add as much to the drink as we desired. It reminded me of the bar scenes in western movies when the hero is presented with a whiskey bottle and a shot glass.
(Editor’s Note: Stanley Greenberg is on vacation this week. This week’s column is an encore presentation of a piece originally published on March 11, 2005.)
While I was walking on the treadmill at the clubhouse of the condominium where I live, I started speaking to a fellow condo resident. Having a conversation while you are walking on the machine is a great boon, because it takes your mind off the boring step after step drudgery.
I asked him how long he had lived at the condominium. I had never seen him before in the 23 years that I have lived there. I was quite sure he was a newcomer. I was flabbergasted when he said, “I have been living here for 23 years!”
As a New Yorker I was disheartened to hear that the New York State Tobacco Control Program has been slashed to $41 million. This will no doubt be a disservice to the people of New York.
(Editor’s Note: This letter was dated March 25, 2011)
At a public meeting on March 22, 2011, after extensive consideration, the Board of Trustees of the Incorporated Village of Muttontown adopted a resolution establishing a Village of Muttontown Police Department.
In an unexpected twist, in a conversation with a neighbor, I was told, “I don’t like going south in the winter. I love the warmth and coziness of my own home. I get blankets and a quilt or two and I am in heaven. I don’t need to board a plane to stay in a hotel. My den is much more comfortable.”
With so many competing voices on television, radio, blogs and social media, we can sometimes miss out on certain forthright messages that deserve special attention. Mike Barry’s “Eye On The Island” column in the March 10 edition, however, merits extraordinary recognition.
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