A Week of Dead Days
A few years ago, I read a book with a title something like this. The Book of Dead Days?
The story did not stick with me, but I've adopted the phrase as a description of the time between the midwinter holidays and New Year's.
It's a week for not getting work done. A week to kindle up some fire against the dark and then sit poking the fire with a stick.
But I did mean to share the results of a recent photo safari. It's seasonable to the odd week.
Here's hoping for a bright new year.
Art or Nature?
Life is not the only thing out there imitating art.
Evidently Nature's in on it too.
According to Edgar Degas, "Art is not what you see, but what you make others see." And for that I might as well go ahead and apologize.
I was thinking about the Alexander Pope quote, which was –– I thought –– Art is but Nature to advantage dressed. Or, in this case, not dressed. I meant to rift extensively on part about being undressed. Low humor, sure, and possibly dragging in the topic of saggy pants.
But when I checked the quotation (From his Essay on Criticism, which is in strictest truth a poem), Pope actually wrote:
"True wit is Nature to Advantage drest,/What oft was Thought, but ne'er so well Exprest,/Something, whose Truth convince'd at Sight we find,/That gives us back the Image of our Mind."
Oh Alexander Pope, you navel-gazing noodler.
It's that time of year. Keep a weather eye open for things like this.
Roaming? Oh heck, they are everywhere these days.
The Would-Be Farm: Tractor Dreams
Tractor envy. The green-eyed monster has been whispering to us about the rumbling of a diesel, big ole knobby tires, a power take-off connection that would strike fear into a worried soul.
I've had my eye on a pair of Jiminy Cricketty brother-tractors down the road. Not planning to purchase, as they lack any of the safety features of the past three or four decades, but still.
The flames of feverish desire were fanned by the loan of the neighbor's brand-spanking new tractor to mow our fields last summer.
Likewise also was desire inflamed by the week's rental of a small but feisty Bobcat excavator, which enabled us to move dirt and rocks in a most gratifying way.
One of the really surprising parts of the Would-Be Farm is how things go from concept to reality. Mr. Linton perused the interwebs (on his tablet! haHA!) and chatted with his tractor-driving friends. We piled into the pickup and bounced down to the tractor store.
We took a mechanically-inclined friend, Curt, along as the designated cooler head to prevail over our starry-eyed amateur purchasing impulses. Curt suggested that we might want to have a bulldozer, too. Not sure his head was cooler.
Anyway, it was the matter of a morning's shopping, negotiation of some refurbishment on the 14-year-old beauty, several painfully slow days of waiting for delivery, and it's official. The Would-Be Farm has a tractor. With a back-hoe attachment. And a brush cutter.
A Good Regatta in Sandusky
My favorite skipper has been telling me for –– oh –– decades about Cedar Point. Located on the western end of Lake Erie near the town of Sandusky, this amusement park is the Roller Coaster Capital of the World (and home of the Demon Drop). It's also a nice spot for a sailing championship.
He gleefully talks about going to Sandusky for a Hobie Nationals many moons ago (How many moons? Picture acid-washed bluejeans and possibly a Members Only jacket) and when it got really windy at that regatta, he and his crew just betook themselves off the beach and into the amusement park. Where they have the world-famous Demon Drop.
So when we got to the Sandusky Sailing Club, I was not surprised to see the amusement park on the horizon. Our Air BnB sold itself partly on its proximity to the park.
But frankly, I didn't credit Mr. Linton's suggestion that if it was too windy for our Flying Scot, we'd just park the boat and go ride the rollercoasters. Not to mention the Demon Drop!
Seriously, we'd been driving for three solid days of rain, listened to five books on CD, and by gum we were in town to sail.
Sailboat racing, for those who don't know, is a sport that seems to skate along a narrow bit of path, weatherwise: too little wind and the boats won't move. Too much and it's actively hazardous. And the various sailing craft have differing performance ranges. Race an Etchells in 20 knots, and it's a lively ride, while on the same day, a Flying Scot will be a squirrelly handful, at least in my experience.
We skipped the practice day, as the conditions were "fresh to frightening," our sails were fresh-from-the-box spanking new, and we were pretty practiced up thanks to our comrades in the Florida District. High winds actually closed rides at Cedar Point; we betook ourselves to the Merry-Go-Round Museum.
The museum was fun, but time will march. Or possibly time will drop like a demon.
In any case, the Flying Scot North American Championship qualifying series started on a Monday in some freshy-freshy breeze. The race committee reminded us that it was an hour or so sail out to the racecourse.
In the hard waves native to the really Great Lakes we have known.
Thanks to some Flying Scot hero friends (Hi Ben! Hi Deb! Congratulate Deb on her book Alexandra the Great. Better yet, buy a copy of it), we sailed the qualifying races with a borrowed older jib.
First time ever we chose to go downwind in a race WITHOUT putting up our spinnaker. Bill Draheim would have been proud! (Long story, college chums, first Scot regatta, Tampa Bay in super-agitate cycle, and Jeff remarking about eschewing a kite: "Are you smoking crack?")
Happily, most of the fleet stayed upright and the race committee took pity on –– I mean sent us to shore after two races.
The weather is often the star of the show at these sailing events: Lawsy day, but the wind was swirly! Oooh, the waves were square and capricious! My word, but those zephyrs were nigh-on invisible! Green water –– just pouring over the bow!
The 2017 Flying Scot NACs were no different: the aprés sail talk was about finding/reading/surviving the wind. And not a little bit of smack-talk between teams: the heavier teams rooting for more breeze, us lightweights hoping for a little less. In Sandusky, the wind progressively grew less strong on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The race committee gave us two races in the more open Sandusky Bay Tuesday, and then two in the more protected East Bay on Wednesday.
Team Linton had a most excellent regatta. We prevailed over a field of tough competitors who also happen to be lovely people. We got to visit with old friends. We spent time talking with new friends. We made plans of when we might get back together.
Not to sound, you know, disingenuous and all, but we had plenty of good luck, and we didn't make too many dreadful mistakes. Indeed, we did make mistakes, and discouraging words were heard from time to time, but Mr. Linton is a Never-Say-Die kind of guy.
Trophy presentation photos thanks to Jennifer Ikeda.
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