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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Angling South

  Usually June and July see us overseas with a lazy, late afternoon realization that it is the fourth.  Shrug, nod in the general direction of where you think the United States are and then it's back to a cold Hairouin and roti.

This month sees us landlocked and moving between coasts.  Harboring an Iago like itch for trouble we move erratically down towards The Gulf.  Fabric swatches and uncracked moleskines sit idle in the way back under a drift of sand pocked bags and rod cases.  I suppose I'm in search of inspiration, some bbq, and at least the chance to throw a rod at some fish.  But if you must know, and as the humidity peaks, there is a declining trajectory of ambition at hand.

We are in Alabama and interests are piqued by the Garden & Gun  piece on the quail trail.  Open fields come into view and the soil turns sandy.  The once orderly rows of a pecan copse are blurred by the movement of chokebush and kudzu.

We make ourselves lost on idle clay roads and are reminded of how visceral and green the landscape is. It's a Flannery O'connor story of lush growth, dark scents, and the scripted decreptitude of wonderful old houses.  You could get lost here.

none of my material is green enough.  Everything has me in the mood for eye searing chartreuse pins over a subtle Prince of Wales blue.  Must send for swatches to meet me en route.

 I have shirts (our 170's really do travel well) but am tie-less.  I borrow an Hermes that is probably older than me,  blue with cornflowers bursting upwards towards the neck.  This evening its to be a fete- of a friend of a friend.  No movie theatres, no Starbucks, not even a bowling alley out by the highway anymore.  A house party seems just about right as the day draws on and the g & t cools me. I rest my eyes and lean back in the glider as the dog lays in an orange wedge of afternoon sun.

The obvious abounds.  Every cliche is in place and I can see why transplanted northerners, interior decorators, and Atlantans make their intermittent claims here before moving on to a place less challenging.  Of course it's the anniversary of "To Kill A Mockingbird".  As the Chattahoochee creeps through its dammed waters behind us I'm ready for someone to cue Atticus.

I am holding a Sazerac and have already ditched the tie.  I thank the skeletal, heavily perspiring older gentlemen tending bar and note the tie of his bow and the starch of his shirt.  I have seen him off and on over the years at such get togethers and he always looks the part.  I note that he still pours with a heavy hand.

The afterthought of an air conditioner simply cannot keep up with the smash of bodies and a veranda door is opened.  The sweet, sickly heaviness of gardenias fills the room and serves as a foil to the faint bitterness of bats somewhere in the eaves.  I am told that the ballroom above our heads is collapsing and is off limits.  I look in the off center gilded and fogged mirror.   The leaded chandelier above seems suddenly menacing.

The crowd is a definition.  There are knots of elderly people moving about a massive pecan refractory table piled with the usual Southern goods.  Wavering hands clutch crystal high ball glasses against chipped Spode.  The period clothing would make even the most jaded Williamsburg denizen envious. 

Middle aged couples talk of the oil down on the Gulf as their children chase fireflies and are attacked by no see ums out by the roses.  Coltish tanned girls from Oxford and Tuscaloosa are drawn together (as all Southern women are) by a good story.  I see B.R. and he tells me of how they are renovating his uncles old place outside of Acapulco.  Although saddened that it has been discovered again he is looking forward to the seasons villa parties.  A guy in his twenties hands me a glass of something local, then adds a friends bitters.  It tastes like spar varnish with an overtone of rosemary. I thank him and then field questions about Tony Howard.  I think that someone must think we hung around short midwicket and deep fine leg together...

still no greens.

Tomorrow the road leads to the sea....

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wishing every month of the year could be June

The ferry leaves the dock with a slow, groaning inertia.  Engines idle hungrily under the diesel thump as air conditioners and fans are pushed to high.   Cars packed like those in a cannery settle in for the short ride.  We limbo sideways out the door, trying not to door whack the elderly couple in their golden sedan.  A woman behind us grips her wheel, hair fanning out from the a.c.'s wake.  From a once red F150 we hear Tommy James and the Shondells Crystal Blue Persuasion.  My seven year old grabs my hand and we move through the salt air and up onto  the observation deck.  Our stomachs are full of fried clams and grape Nehi's.  It's summer in the Outer Banks.

This is June, probably the finest month of the year.  Everything seems so possible.  The breadth of summer just streaming out before you into an unknowable distance.  This is the month of childhood and one that still settles expectantly on even the oldest of travel companions. 

 thinking of another batch

Eventually we head South and end up in Wrightsville.  The scene of so much of a misspent youth.  The swells are kneeish at best and nothing is happening.  The beach breaks are still crummy and the break near the pier is too policed.  Figure Eight is rejoining the sea. We grab Carolina dogs at the Trolley Stop and eavesdrop on the same conversations that we surely had while perched on our beater Wagoneers. Inevitably there is talk of a party across Masonboro inlet.  Someone will swim across, someone will barely make it to the barnacle encrusted buoy after misjudging currents, someones friends will pluck them from the sea in an overloaded Grady White. 
These talks never end.  My son is finishing his dog and we seem fitting bookends to the most summery of discussions.

Despite our better judgment we are working on pulling together something a bit more comprehensive than our sporadic offerings.  This seems like work but we have listened to what you want.  We'll keep everyone posted as ideas emerge and designs materialize. 

I'm still thoroughly against any kind of seasonal collection.  The goal as always is an 8 week pulse of something new and worth acquiring.  What is seasonal anymore?  For the price of a Varig ticket we can all go from Vilebrequins and oxfords to off piste in Portillo, wearing the most technical of Chouinard's gear.  I've left puzzled customs officers in Bridgetown as they sweated through a suitcase full of tweeds and sweaters, packed for a Hogmanay house party.  I suppose it's all relative.

  All I can promise is that no 640 gram shooting jackets will be seen in July.  Swim trunks in the midst of winter are something else entirely...