"You can smell it in the air. They're burning the dry brush away." The old man exclaimed as he trudged down the sandy path toward me. We met in the middle as I walked away from the beach and he toward it.

"Beg your pardon?" I said.

"See! They light the fires in hopes an easterly wind will blow all the smoke out to sea," he explained, gesturing with his massive arm with a hand like a shovel, pointing up the coast where a thick white bank of clouds traveled seemingly across the water's surface. "I thought that was fog," I offered.

He ignored me, or did a good job of pretending to ignore me, and went on talking.

"If they don't start controlled fires, the dry brush might go up on its own and get too hard to put out. Sometimes they can't even control the one's they start." He was a large man who looked to be in his eighties. He squinted into the sun behind me, and looked me up and down.

"Can't you smell it?" and with this he made an exaggerated display of inhaling nasally. He looked me over once more, assessing this foreigner in the loud shirt and turned on his heels in the sand and started toward the beach again. As I called out to him, "Have a good day," he held the arm up once again in response and I watched him, remarkably spry for a man of his years, taking long strides toward the shore. I smiled and made my way back up the path.

 I wonder what condition I will be in at his age! That is assuming I even make it that far in life. I am forty- three years of age come November and a lot of the time I feel very much older. I suffer from Parkinson's disease. It is something I live with begrudgingly, like a rooming house owner with an elderly tenant who just will not die. The actor Michael J. Fox suffers from Parkinson's disease as well. We have a lot in common. We are roughly the same age. We are both Canadian by birth. He is a millionaire. I am a Sagittarius. The other day my wife informed me that researchers in France had cured a mouse of Parkinson's, news that should delight Michael J. Fox, who was a mouse in the Stuart Little movies. Mister Fox refers to the malady we have in common as "the gift that keeps on taking" which is rather clever, I think. Parkinson's disease is not fatal or contagious so you can't die from it or contract it by sitting on a strange toilet. It is not a disease you die from but one you must live with.

It is a degenerative disease however, which means that most sufferers, over the course of time, will get steadily worse. Because each human brain is as different as a thumbprint or a snowflake, every individual suffers in their own unique way. I tend to blame a lot of things on it that it may or may not be responsible for. It is just one of the perks. Short term memory loss is one good example.  I had other examples but I can't think of them right now.