Sunday, February 2, 2014

Tourist excess

The gumbo limbo tree's red, 
peeling bark looks painful. 

Marathon Key
Day Two, Sunday

I read today, while on our hike along the Curry Hammock trail about two miles north or Marathon, that they call the gumbo limbo tree the “tourist tree” because the red, peeling bark looks like a tourist’s skin. Fair warning, then. Don’t overdo.

Wait a minute.

Try telling a tourist not to overdo. A tourist has a finite amount of time and dozens of imperatives. That’s the American Way. And, frankly, it makes for an ugly situation, as anyone who lives in a tourist town knows. We in Rockport have seen plenty of ugly and I’m not just talking about second-degree sunburns.

To be honest, I didn’t drag out of bed at 3 am, drive half asleep to JFK, stand in lines to get ex-rayed and then squeezed onto a plane for three hours just so I could be sensible and wan and responsible. I want different. I want experimental. I want new.

I sit here on the deck, looking across the canal at the outsized TV screen in someone’s house (it’s Super Bowl Sunday) and I see a football game reflecting off the water. Next thing I know, some kind of crazed night bird lands on my friend’s boat, right here next to me, and screeches and screeches and screeches. Yes. That’s more like it.

And there’s this exquisite breeze. The splash of a fish jumping. The rattling palms that sound like summer rain. And a perfect little curve of moon, a perfect Cheshire grin. Exactly. Bring it on. It’s a conspiracy of excess.

If there’s tourist’s remorse to be had, I hope to defer till the punishing plane ride home.

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