What you see is what you get

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by: rodger skidmore

What you see is what you get

     The question is, what do you want to get and where can you see it. Southwest Florida is a big place which normally contains lots to see and do. Thankfully we seem to be getting through some of our major troubles so maybe we can, if we are careful, begin to tiptoe out, look around, and see if there’s something we’d get some pleasure in doing. Unfortunately wishful thinking won’t cut it. What we do must be both sensible and beautiful. 

     A 30 minute drive from the corner of Main Street and 301 goes directly to the Robinson Preserve in Bradenton. Just drive north on 301, make a left onto Manatee Avenue just before going over the bridge to Palmetto, right onto 75th Street and left onto 17th Avenue – and there you are. While jelly is smooth, a preserve is a rich, juicy, and  wonderful place, full of surprises. Going along the trails one can meet rabbits, spider crabs, see birds, hear fish jumping, and see wonderful sights. There are many trails inside the preserve for those who wish a brisk walk or just a simple saunter. On various trails dogs, bikers, kayakers, and humans are welcome. There is a rubberized asphalt trail side by side with a shell/sand track so that dogs can walk along with their human friends without getting their paws too hot (a sign by the entrance shows that, while the air temperature can seem cool, asphalt can get way too hot for bare feet or paws). There are benches along the trails so that one can rest, or simply take in a peaceful view of a small pond or lake. Fishermen can be seen on some of the bridges, and, Oh!, what bridges. Some cross small streams while others cross long stretches of the marshland, curving back and forth. A multi-story ranger tower rises above a loop trail with panoramic vistas in all directions.

     Upon reaching the Gulf, there are picnic tables, and more benches where one can sit in the shade and eat – or just enjoy the views of the Skyway bridge in the distance. The number of plants and flowers along the trails is extraordinary, colorful, and, at times, fragrant. There is one stretch of trail with parts of the estuary system on one side and the Gulf on the other, where, if you twitch your eyes just right, you can see both stretches of water at the same time.

     How far should one walk along the trail? That is up to you. And to help with that decision, there are markers along the way indicating how far you’ve walked and what attractions are up ahead, to the left, or to the right. Go to the Robinson Preserve and you will want to go again. Mymanatee.org/departments/parks___natural_ resources.

What you’d like to see, you might get

     Tired after a nice leisurely/invigorating walk along beautiful trails? Great. That means it’s time for a nice light dinner and some really good TV. Not current US political stuff or COVID-19 stuff, but TV that is both good and entertaining. Britain’s National Theatre is both. They started their free streaming service with One Man, Two Guvnors, a slapstick comedy starring James Corden, that was based on a 1743 Italian play (yes, they updated it so it was funnier than ever). Corden is now host of The Late, Late Show on TV. An early May offering was an unbelievable, fantastic version of Frankenstein featuring Benedict Cumberbatch (now available on DVD). 

     From May 28th thru June 4th the National Theatre will be streaming The House. The US version of House of Cards was based on the UK’s House of Cards which was based on a novel. This play, The House, is based on the real thing – UK politics from the 1970s where real politicians got into real fights and ones that were ill were brought into the House of Parliament to cast their votes, on stretchers. The House had a sold out run, a sold out tour, and, a while back, was a streaming hit. Now the streaming is free (for a week). Starting the evening of June 4th they will be streaming a play of political intrigue and manipulation – Coriolanus. The actual(?) events took place in ancient Rome, but fear not, the proceedings were updated……..in 1606……..by Shakespeare. How are these events relevant today? Well, because political intrigue and manipulation are always relevant. In this play Coriolanus is played by Tom Hiddleston (Betrayal, The Avengers, The Night Manager). More info (and maybe more plays) at Youtube.com/watch?v=lWc6_aCTqI0.

     The Sarasota Opera had to cut its season short but the Metropolitan Opera has taken up the slack, with a different opera streaming every night. Check out what’s coming up at metopera.org/user-information/nightly-met-opera-streams/. When tourists go to Norway they usually wind up in Oslo – which is great. However, for a treat they take a cruse up the coast where they arrive at Bergen, a lovely, more peaceful place. There they can attend a concert by the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra – as can you at http://www.Bergenphilive.no

What you’d like to hear, when you want to hear it

     Some people like the Detroit Tigers, others like the Baltimore Orioles. Some like unsalted peanuts, others like honey roasted cashews. Some can shelter-at-home, while others go bonkers – and that is the problem. Having something to do when there is nothing to do. Or having something to do while you’re cleaning the grout between your kitchen tiles – again. In a word – Podcasts.

     Some podcasts can be very specific, like: The building of the Erie Canal, 18th Century Falconry, or Clocks of Central Europe (1621-1782). Many others are simply individuals rambling on for 25 minutes about some 5 minute subject of minor concern. Googling “list of best podcasts” is no help because there are so many “25 Best” lists that are just an individual’s musings – sort of like a written podcast. So, the more specific you can be in the selection process the quicker you will be able to find something to occupy your mind while you make believe you are multi-tasking. Don’t just google podcasts fiction, but podcasts fiction mystery detective Swedish or whichever genre turns you on. Of course there will be many suggestions that don’t relate to what you were searching for but, well, Google is Google. Caveats are that most podcasts reviewed work only on smart phones, so have good earbuds, many ask you to subscribe to something, and others have long adverts. To bypass all of that, put the name of an NPR radio show into your smart phone search for podcasts – like Hidden Brain, TED Radio Hour, How I Built This, Fresh Air, or Car Talk – or PBS specials on NOVA, Nature, and From the Top at Carnegie Hall. For an independent radio podcast that is superb, nothing beats The Moth Radio Hour. A steady stream of individuals telling about an absorbing incident in their life. Each can really hold your attention – TheMoth.org. Another simple way to listen – audiobooks from the Sarasota Library system – scgov.net/government/department/libraries.

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