sunday on the beach

03/21/11 09:46

Yesterday our friends Don and Joanne gave us a tour of Palm Beach. We drove A1A north, at one point turning down the narrow streets of Briney Breezes, the white, trailer-like houses all looking the same except the one with the large statues of the Blues Brothers sitting on a bench.

Soon, the houses got much bigger. We passed Trump's Mar-a-Lago and Jimmy Buffett's mansion, also overlooking the ocean. (Two song lyrics came immediately to mind: "Wasting away again in Margaritaville" and "Only in America.")

We parked at The Society of the Four Arts and strolled through the Chinese garden, a woman telling us that the tree on the right is the type that Chanel No. 5 uses for its perfume. In the nearby courtyard we found a table for our picnic lunch: sausage, cheese, hummus, crackers, white wine, strawberries and oranges that we had brought in a knapsack. We took a postprandial stroll through the sculpture garden, where Hania and Joanne posed for pictures sitting on the laps of Roosevelt and Churchhill.

We drove to the Flagler Museum and, instead of going in, we walked down to what Don and Joanne called "The Tree in the Mind of God." It was a 130-year-old kapok tree, according to the woman sitting nearby. When a man passing remarked on the roots - some taller than us - she corrected him by calling them "buttresses." Even without leaves, it had a stunning majesty.

This was a good cue for our next stop, Bethesda-by-the-Sea. I'd been to the Episcopal Church before, but I'd forgotten the gargoyles, the somber, austere elegance of the interior - made even darker by the intensity of the outside light - and the exquisite blue of the stained glass window behind the altar. And I'd never strolled through the garden in back, with its pool of koi and little nook where Don said he sometimes reads. It was a beautiful example - the stone walls and the lush foliage - of subtropical classical.

Back in the car we drove past the old Kennedy house, the Catholic church the family used to attend, the drugstore across the street (still there) where they would sometimes go after Mass. We drove by Bernie Madoff's former residence (getting a redesign) before parking for a stroll down Worth Avenue. Don pointed out the Everglades Club, noting that it had kept Kennedy out.

A few shops were open, but we didn't enter them; we just felt the air-conditioned drafts through their open doors, inhaled the perfumed air of their interiors. Then we got in the car and drove across the bridge, no poorer than when we'd arrived.

By Thomas Swick • Category: Travel, hometown

2 comments

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11/01/13 @ 03:16
Comment from: lyric [Visitor]
lyric

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11/19/15 @ 06:11