puff, puff. (guilt)

Florida
By sunshine Emmet

If you were raised a Catholic, the guilt is never more than an arm’s length away…even in Florida. It doesn’t matter that you have not been in a church since the first Patriot Super Bowl victory. It is right there…waiting.
A guilt-free person could simply turn on his Florida television for the morning broadcast of the Weather Channel and laugh at those poor devils in Maine suffering through the sixteenth storm of the season. That person could take that information and relate it to anyone in earshot at the ballpark, grocery store or the Target store. That person could call home and not report the latest temperature reading, laughing, with no moral hangover.
Not me.
If I awake to another perfect Spring Hill morning, I feel obligated to do…something.
When I am at home at Cobb Manor surrounded by several feet of snow and a gloriously unshoveled driveway, I am perfectly content to be the world’s best couch potato, with the most exercise performed by changing the channel from ESPN to The Military Channel to check on Stalingrad. It’s a good day when I cannot make a (rare) visit to the YMCA because the roads are too treacherous.
No guilt.
In Florida, I somehow channel Bruce Jenner. Last week was an exercise bonanza. On Friday, it was the spring training game between the Pirates and the nearby Blue Jays. My new favorite, Pirate Andrew McCutcheon did not make the trip. Damn.
Saturday, the first day of March, I dragged the Trek Multitrack 7500 off to the perfect Suncoast Parkway bike trail, 40 miles of paved heaven. There is nothing like this within a three hour drive from Cobb Manor. No traffic, no red lights, not even a pothole. I had done nine miles the previous week, so I upped the distance to a sweaty, panting 13 miles. With the brand new iPad stuffed with hours of blues tunes, the excursion was (mostly) a pleasure.
Puff, puff.
On Sunday, Markie P. woke me at before dawn to get ready for the trip to The Rivard Golf Course. Studies have reported that the Rivard has more Maine golfers per capita than any other Florida course. Bangor native Marcia Faulkingham runs the snack bar. We did the back nine to avoid the paparazzi and were drinking a pitcher of beer by 10:30. If you are drinking Budweiser by 10:30 at home, you are a problem drinker. In Florida, you are a golfer.
Puff, puff.
On Monday morning I awoke to find pain in muscles I was previously unaware of. The first golf outing in a year was a shock to those certain and particular golf muscles. Ouch.
But Monday was a perfectly beautiful Florida morning. Sure, I could sit by the pool with the wonder dog, Royce and bark at squirrels. But you simply (guilt) cannot waste a day like that when those poor devils in Maine were facing still another snow storm and zero overnight temps.
Naturally, hosts Mark and Jane had somehow borrowed a kayak and even supplied a truck to carry it to the nearby Weeki Wachee River, a pristine, spring-fed river. Talk about hosts. (I have asked them for a Ferris wheel, just to test their hospitality. No luck so far.) I paddled and floated down the river in a three- hour trip which featured a variety of fish, manatees and thankfully, no gators. At the two hour mark, I crashed. If I could have walked out of the mangroves to the road, I would have. I just floated along with the current like a log, exhausted, just to finish the trip.
Puff, puff.
Who did I think I was, Bruce Jenner?
I could barely load the borrowed kayak onto the borrowed truck and get back to the Spring Hill pool.
On Tuesday, I prayed for rain. I didn’t get it, but there were warning of a shower, a blessing that found me guilt-free at the pool with Royce, the wonder dog. Together, we barked at the squirrels.
It was the very most I could do.
On Wednesday, I prayed for rain again.