There was, near the hotel at which we were staying, a thin, rocky beach that was fenced off to all the world and therefore empty. The beach was subject to a long-running access lawsuit and had no parking lot. The fence that secured it from the two-lane road was meant to be forbidding. But it was easily breached, and so breached it was.
The beach ran adjacent to a lush golf course--set off from the course--and the world--by Volkswagen-sized boulders. Occasionally, a stray drive would clear the boulders and land not on the fairway, but instead, would plop into the sand or splash into the ocean.
The golfers responsible for such errant shots would climb over the wooden stairways over the boulders that the course put in, prospecting for their lost Titlelist with their clubs swinging back and forth like a divining-rod or the business-end of a Geiger counter.
In the morning, early, while most of the hotel was still asleep and only golfers and runners were out in any force, my wife, Whiskey and I would head out to the sea and play Whiskey's raison d'etre--Fetch the Duck.
Rain or shine, high-tide or low, walking the mile or so to the beach became for all of us, the "anti-work." Or, as Club Med had put it in their advertising so many years ago, "the Antidote for Civilization."
Our beach/duck ritual became exactly that. Sand in our shoes, the gentle sound of waves in our ears, the distance from the office and the incessant ping ping ping of emails and meeting reminders and never-ending 'can you take a look at this's.'
We would stay by the sea for 90 minutes or two hours, until Whiskey would look at me with her browns and say, that is enough. When she had had it, she would park in the high sea grass and rest, and often try to shred to pieces the very duck she had fetched.
Then we would climb over the boulders and she would roll in the rough of the golf-course until she was semi-dry. We would walk back to the hotel, hose her off gently and, generally speaking, return to the world that is too much with us.
There's a lot you can say about the sybaritic world most of us live in or aspire to. There's a lot you can say about expensive meals and 48-inch flatscreen TVs and multi-millionaires playing boys' games for our amusement. There's a lot you can say about the great books of the world and the golden age of television and spa treatments and $14 cocktails by the pool.
None of it measures up to fetching a duck.