Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Come Tuesday

Day four of vacation and endless lazing aside, two valuable lessons learned already.

Seashell collecting in Islamorada is not like seashell collecting on the Outer Banks, a lesson learned the hard way. After yesterday's lunch on the downstairs patio, mere feet from the ocean, we decided to check out the ocean temperature.

It was warm, which wasn't surprising given how low the water is along this stretch, which is referred to as "ocean flats," which seems to be code for "ridiculously shallow water that laps at the shore with no whitecaps." The beauty of that depth is the variety of colors that result from the slightest change in depth, so at any given moment, there can be bands of four different shades of green and just as many variations of blue.

As we're wading through the crystal clear water, we make our way around seaweed, sea sponges and the like when I spot a 3-inch whelk shell and scoop it up, then another and a couple more. All are striking in their markings so they're scooped up, brought back to the house and put in a bowl.

Mid-afternoon, we hear clinking in the bowl and by evening, we realize the biggest one still has an animal in it. He's returned to the sea with best wishes, but the others remain bowl-bound because there's no sign of animals in them.

Except that when we wake up today, only two of the three remain. Oops. We start looking for the escapee, but it's a big house, two levels with an open center staircase and he's a little guy with a shell the color of the floor. So not easy to spot.

Finally, Mr. Wright spots him lurking near the refrigerator.

Before breakfast, we're wishing bon voyage to all three, tossing them back to the mother land ocean and wishing them godspeed.

Okay, so no more shell collecting.

Then there's the music challenge. Sure, we could resort to music off of Mr. Wright's iPad, but where's the fun in that when Leila's house comes equipped with such 20th century accouterments as a CD player and a cache of CDS?

No, we're going to see what the house has to offer in terms of music, besides classical, which it seems to have plenty of.

After requisite Buffet (no doubt a mainstay in every Keys home), we hit pay dirt with a 2007 Paul McCartney album I've never even heard of: "Kisses on the Bottom." Like one of my favorite Paul Weller albums ("Studio 150"), it's Sir Paul doing classic songs from his youth, with arrangements using upright bass, vibes, children's choirs and even the London Symphony Orchestra. Diana Krall plays piano on most songs, if that tells you anything.

Then there are the songs, such as "It's Only a Paper Moon" and "Get Yourself Another Fool," Granted, anything would sound wonderful when listened to in big, cushioned chairs on the deck overlooking the ocean, but he also did a masterful job with the material.

Ditto Miles Davis' "Cookin' at the Plugged Nickel," which felt like we were in some smoky basement dive listening to Miles blow. Yves Montand's two disc "Montand" - the cover photo shows only his head, a match inexplicably clenched between his teeth - put us in a smoky Parisian club after hours.

Both, we have decided, are music for evenings, not sunny afternoon tunes.

The John Scofield Quartet gave us "Meant to Be," while Little Feat's "Waiting for Columbus" took me back to 1978 and Yes' "Fragile" to 1972. I picked "Sommer Smash Hots '92" expecting grunge or alternative and instead we heard a succession of bass-heavy club mixes of songs like K.C. and the Sunshine Band's "Please Don't Go" and Bread's "Make It With You."

And while I'm no fan of the milquetoast Bread, hearing that song with a thumping bass certainly improved it considerably.

After seeing a VW van with a Led Zeppelin bumper sticker on my walk earlier, it was only appropriate to get home and have Mr. Wright put on Robert Plant's "Now and Zen." And, frankly, Hendrix's "Axis: Bold as Love" was meant to be played loudly to ocean breezes.

And if it's not, too bad because we've learned that we're choosing the soundtrack to this vacation, with a little help from an Islamorada music lover and endless blue skies.

Bold as love, indeed.

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