Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dog Days in Vero Beach, FL

It's been several days back in Vero Beach, FL, which has become our home base for the month of December. Boat life has developed a new routine with a dog on board. There is the early morning dinghy ride to land for Susie's morning relief and exercise in the big off-leash park nearby. There is the late afternoon dinghy ride to land for Susie's afternoon relief and walk. And there is the pre-bedtime dinghy ride to land for Susie's evening relief and walk.

But we are not alone. There are, I am just noticing, plenty of other dog-owning sailors following the same routine. In fact, I've started mistaking dinghy passengers leaning forward, from a distance, for eager-to-pee dogs. After all, the dogs on boats here aren't just little westies and mini collies; there are big chocolate labs, Irish setters, and golden retrievers, too.

While it might seem out of place for a pit bull to be living on a sailboat, Susie has taken to her new home. She gets to bask in the sun when she wants, cool off in the cabin when the sun's too hot, run around the park to stretch her legs, and snuggle under the table when it's bedtime. All in all, she likes her new environment.
Susie looking at me like *I'* look strange...
Camera angle stretching Susie out
The same cannot be said for the Enterprise drop-off lady. A few days ago, I was getting a ride back to the marina after dropping off the rental car. The van pulled up, and I got in with another, elderly passenger. The driver, another senior lady, ordered us to put on our seatbelts, and away we went. The elderly passenger, undeterred by the driver's dour demeanor, began to chat with her. She was visiting Vero Beach for the holidays and wasn't it just lovely here!

Passenger: "I just love it here! There are all sorts of things to do, and everything is so convenient!"

Enterprise woman: "Really?"

Passenger: "Oh yes!"

Enterprise woman: "I'm from Palm Beach, so this seems boring to me."

Passenger: "Oh. Well, I'm rural, so everything seems exciting to me. But I guess if I were from Palm Beach..."

Enterprise woman: "And there are no men here..."

Passenger: "There *are* lots of women. (Pause) I have a family, though, so I guess I'm lucky..."

After we dropped off the elderly woman at a condo complex, I asked the Enterprise woman how long she'd been in Vero Beach. Ten years, but "I have a feeling something is going to change." She wasn't terribly unhappy here, though she knew she might sound it, but she complained that people in this area don't really like "different thinking people, forward-thinking people," like herself, a former macrobiotic chef.

I didn't ask her why she's stayed in Vero Beach for 10 years then, because that can be a very difficult question for anyone to answer. I just hope that her feeling about imminent change turns out to be right.

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