April 20, 2012
Tides are controlled by the moon, and the prevailing lunar phase left a low tide at midday. We had to drag our kayaks through the shallows southwest of the island.
After stashing the kayaks in the scrub we began the hike to the Point. It was turning out to be a mostly cloudy day, breezy, good picnic weather. We saw tracks in the sand. “Those look like my tracks from when I was here last summer,” I speculated.
“Um... wouldn’t the tide have come in and washed them away by now?” I conceded the point. Besides there appeared to be paw tracks there too. A dog, probably. I suggested they might be cougar tracks.
“What’s a cougar?” Cathy said.
“Are you kidding? It’s a mountain lion. What if it comes and eats us?”
“There’s plenty of other wildlife and stuff around here for it to eat.”
“Maybe it’s a lazy cougar.”
“We’ll offer it some of the chicken and tell him to leave us alone.”
“Heh... I’ll give it some almond butter. Ever see a cat try to cope with a mouthful of peanut butter?
Just then a couple of egrets flew up out of the brush. I thought of the maddened sheep that ran, panicked, out of the woods in Sleepy Hollow, heralding the appearance of the headless horseman.
“I’d shit my pants if I saw a cougar, though.”
“Well then... I hope we don’t see one."
We rounded the cape on the east side of the island and there where I left it was Jeaux Point. A blue heron grazed with affluent grace along the far shore.
Held aloft and shaken, the big blue sheet instantly unfolded in the wind; we lowered it, flapping like a mad pelican, to the sand and pinned the corners down with our stuff.
“Are you Irish?” I said.
“A whiskey drinker...”
“I pour myself one sometimes when I watch Downton Abbey.”
“To get in the spirit of things.”
“Yes... after I put on something plaid.”
The wind and tide were against us, as usual, on the paddle back. The wind was so strong in the shallows it was a bit surreal. Hats flew. Cathy took hers off to forestall being strangled by the neck strap. But once we made deep water and were back in our kayaks, the wind couldn’t find us - such is the visage of the stealthy craft.
Would we make it back in time for Downton Abbey? Could be.
April 9, 2012
My fashionista phase which, though diminished, has never really ended, began in second grade with a
helpless stab of admiration for Jimmy Hopkins’ saddle oxfords. They may have been hand-me-downs;
they were retro even back then, and unusual for boys. But they were cool shoes anyway, heightened
by the panache of their owner, a third grader, the kind of little leader whom girls want to marry and
boys want on their team, and on whom I had a crush. No, I didn't throw words like panache around in
second grade. That didn't start til fifth.
I must have made inquiries about the Jimmy Hopkins phenomenon, shoes and owner, among my
friends, because he came up to me one day on the playground, accompanied by his ubiquitous little
“I heard you think I’m cool...” said Jimmy.
“Yeah, I do,” I said, with the candor of a second grader. “Your shoes are really cool, too.”
“Well,” said Jimmy feigning modesty, but frankly trolling for affirmation, “I’m not that cool.”
“Yes you are,” I said definitively. Whereupon he invited me to join him and his friends, the awesome
third-graders, in some field hockey. The saddle oxfords, I noticed up close, were scuffed, which added
to their cachet.
I was to transfer to another school the following year, but we remained friends for the remaining
semester, even after I debuted the saddle oxfords of my own that I had cajoled my mother into buying
me in the next round of shoe buying. I couldn’t wait to scuff them, and seal their cred and charisma.
Jimmy was impressed, and perturbed. We’re wired, it seems, to appreciate the power of the mojo, and
begrudge its infringement. But where two or more are gathered in saddle oxfords there is an alliance,
and Jimmy had an inkling, and appreciation, of that too. Now random kids were calling me cool.
Once even to my face. Which I received with a mixture of excitement, inevitability, and huh? "I'm not
that cool," I was surprised and pleased to hear myself say. "Yes you are!" said the kid with the same
fervor that Jimmy must have heard. But the moment had arrived, and the imprimatur received. My
cool was a fait accompli.
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