Consider ice: It can be a bulldozer that lifts a few thousand pounds of buoy off the bottom and carries it to new location a half mile away. It can be millions of tiny crystalline blades that scalp the terra firma from the face of a bluff. Ice can suck a piling from deep in a harbor’s clay as easily as pulling a toothpick from an olive in an ice-cold martini.
“Cabin fever” does not do justice to our frozen state of mind. True, the Arctic temperatures that have descended on us in recent days have kept us in looking out while the oil burner adds to our carbon footprint and subtracts from our bank accounts. But “fever” is not the right word. I think “numbness” or “ennui” comes closer.
On the grand playing field of human intercourse, nothing gives us as much satisfaction as seeing braggarts brought low, especially if they are the cause, having dashed rather than hoisted themselves on their own petards. It’s what fools are made of, and fools have always been great entertainment.
Brian Williams, the NBC network news anchor, made one of himself with his “Nightly News” story about having been riding on a Chinook helicopter in Iraq when a rocket-propelled grenade shot it down.
Five a.m. on Tuesday. The house is surrounded and topped with snow and ice. It’s cold out and the wind sounds like it wants to come in as much as the cabin fever burning within me wants to go out.
Both my parents were outdoor people, especially my dad. If weather or some kind of obligation kept him inside for too long he got downright ornery, a trait he passed down to me. We walked the beach every weekend whatever the weather. Both parents skied and taught me at an early age.
“Go take a long walk off a short pier.” Not sure why the dismissive phrase came to mind. The pier at San Clemente was not short by a long shot, 200 yards or more. I think it’s because in our minds, piers are a staple, a construct that everyone understands.
“Why do they build them? Just to fish from? Are they for people without boats?” Kyle asked. Good question, and the answer is pretty much, yes, but more. The Pier, as societal microcosm, parade, and oceangoing adventure for pedestrians, has been perfected in California.
It’s Sunday morning. We have just lifted off in the rain from J.F.K. bound for San Diego, where the plan is to rent a car for the short drive north to San Clemente, home of the Surfing Heritage Foundation. The foundation archives surfing history and works to protect access to surf spots around the world.
I’ll be meeting with the foundation’s executive director, a man of Hawaiian lineage, and a surfing god of sorts, a legend in his own time beginning in the 1960s in the waves of Waikiki.
Skating south, I squinted into the sun reflecting off the cold obsidian of Fort Pond in Montauk on Sunday, my blades carving the surface with the crisp metallic notes of swordplay.
The ice mirrored my fellow skaters. They appeared to be skating both right side up and upside down, joined at the blades. A few kids huddled, looking down through the ice in search of fish. “Through the glass darkly” came to mind, the way Corinthians suggests most of us view life — that is, imperfectly.
It’s not our seascape, hills and dales,
When I think Montauk, it’s fins and tails.
Not Rita’s mare, or ‘The Affair,’
Not the Light, or stars at night
Not Gosman’s Dock, or Blackfish Rock
Not summer’s sails, nor nor’east gales
What is Montauk?
It’s fins and tails.