One of my favorite books of some year past is Rohinton Mistry’s epic novel of Bombay, during India’s state of emergency in the mid 1970s, A Fine Balance. I read the book shortly after it came out in 1995, but as I sometimes do with special books, I reread this one over the past week. I won’t say much about the book now, other than to recommend it, and to share a favorite paragraph near the end of the book’s 600 pages…
‘As he spoke, he absently pulled out a fountain pen, unscrewed the cap, and put the nib to his nose. She watched, perplexed, as each nostril in turn was pressed shut and the ink fragrance inhaled deeply. Fortified by his fix of Royal Blue, he continued…’
• • • • • • • •
About the only exercise I stick with these days is walking. While in Japan I had the long, almost endless walking path along the blossom strewn Kanda River, which I took frequent advantage of. Now in Florida and on the beach, I have another superb walking environment just outside my door. There isn’t a lot I can call established or routine about my days here now, but one regime apart from the daily blog post is a three-mile early morning walk on the beach. Somehow, I hold onto that discipline doggedly and never falter in covering my daily distance on the clean white sands of NSB.
There aren’t a great many people on the beach when I go out for a walk, but most of the nine or ten I pass are like me, getting in their own time of exercise. The sounds around me, the surf, winds and birdcalls are as much a part of the experience as the movement of feet and legs. Everyone is different, and some people I pass are walking to the beat of an iPod, or following the distracted cadence of a cell phone conversation. I tried the iPod walk once, but didn’t care for the wall it put up between me and the natural setting. And I do walk with a cell phone in my pocket, just in case, but it would be a rare instance for a phone call to shatter the sanctity of those three miles walking south, feet skirting the surf.
I am trying to learn the names of the common birds, and already know a few of them, like the ever present oystercatchers and white ibis. Earlier pages in the blog have explained my fascination with brown pelicans.
My denuded Japanese iPhone still has a few useful functions, and one of them is a pedometer, which keeps a history of distance walked, time, steps and calories burned. It now tells me I’ve walked thirty-seven miles of white sand since the first outing twelve days ago.
I’m looking forward to the late weeks of summer when there is a chance of encountering newly hatched sea turtles scrambling for the waterline. The giant turtles will soon be arriving all along this stretch of protected coastline to deposit their eggs in nests far up from the surf. The nesting area is a twenty mile stretch of beach, and around 150,000 pounds of eggs are laid each year. It’s always a perilous dash for the baby turtles, and nature very often turns against many. In summers past I’ve ‘rescued’ hatchlings found unmoving at the water’s edge, keeping them safe until the turtle specialists picked them up. I am told they hold them for a few weeks until they grow stronger and can be dropped off at a favorable site twenty-five miles offshore. Hard to imagine when holding a turtle hatchling in the palm of your hand that one day it will grow to be the size of an 800 pound boulder.