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One Woman's Opinion

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La La Land, Part 3

Urbanna, Va.— My awakening in Naples, Florida, in the midst of a cold, dark January back home in Urbanna leant odd sensation. The barren husk of tree and shrub against grey river and sky that I had so recently departed was magically replaced by sunny tropical gardens next to an aqua sea.

I stood on the lanai and blinked. Was such sudden transformation real? Or only a dream? One imagined he had discovered a way to escape . . . cheat Ole’ Man Winter and the entire month of January in the mystical realm of time, and fast forward to June.

by Mary Wakefield Buxton
Steadfast rule of thumb: the colder the winter back home in Virginia, the more glorious the illusion of escape. For if one could avoid all the winters of one’s life, trade them all in for summers, then one had accomplished a neat trick indeed. Still, any idea that I was evading the winters of my life by going off to La La Land was purely illusion and, deep down, I knew it.

That is why friend and inspiration for so many years, the late Dr. Brockett Muir of Saluda, disliked my going off each year to Florida. “Are you writing today, Mary?” he would email me. “What project are you working on?” But he knew I was not writing in La La Land and he found that unforgivable. He was a muse that ran a mighty tight ship.

One must have a sense of humor to go to La La Land. Every year I could not wait to discover what was the Burning New Issue (BNI). Last year the BNI was the change of colors of the condos from beige to pink. The year before that was the incessant noise from a bulldozer moving earth for the new multi-million dollar Venetian style condos and docks being built across the river—which now stood empty. 

This year’s BNI was outdoor music. Two sorts of music offended; one was “canned elevator” music that was transmitted along the waterfront by restaurants and shops that had inserted speakers along the wayside to broadcast music to attract tourists to dine and shop. The problem was music was carried into condos where people did not want to shop and dine, nor even hear canned elevator music.

The question was: Does someone have the right to fill another’s home with unwanted music?

Secondly was the issue of outdoor live entertainment where restaurants and even the yacht club next door wanted to hire special bands. Since live music was so well amplified, it really disturbed residents.

Naples Town Council was represented by the two usual forces; those that always wanted to encourage business and always voted to give license to any request, and those who wanted to protect homeowners from further assault to their peace and quiet.

Business won. License was granted for outdoor music every Sunday afternoon and in the evenings Wednesday through Saturday. I could now stand on my lanai and dance to the music should I ever wish to do so.

My day in La La Land started with a sensible (diet) breakfast, an early long walk to the water, a sensible lunch, errands or sightseeing, a workout in the pool, a sensible amount of wine on the lanai while tapping toes to the live music, a sensible dinner, a party where I hold a glass of water on ice, back to the condo, a British film from the library, a good read, and to bed. But no writing. And worse, no dogs.

“Lanai lizard,” my muse would email me. He never let me forget I was not working as I should have been.  It was true. My fingers itched to write. I missed the dogs.

I called Jackie in Deltaville to check on “Lord” and “Lady.” Yes, my dogs were fine. Jackie also had a pair of seven-month Airedale pups in the next kennel who wrestled together all day long. My dogs couldn’t take their eyes off the pups.

Later in bed I closed my eyes and imagined “Lady” stretching her paws underneath the wired kennel walls as far as she could possibly reach. “Please, darling puppies! Look at me!”

My muse had been right all along. Life in La La Land was filled with illusions. At least two of them had been blown. I would never be happy in a world without dogs and . . . I needed to write every day. (Conclusion next week) ©2009

posted 03.18.2009

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