And then we packed up the F-150 with surfboards, bikes, lounge chairs, coffee, guitars, scarves, whiskey, tents, necklaces, and bahn mi’s and headed out to Montauk. We judiciously used our lack of showering and/or anywhere with a roof to go to avoid becoming embroiled in any of the overarching Montauk sceneyness, and pretty much spent all of our time gazing at the ocean, getting into it, surfing/watching the surfers, eating fried seafood, and drinking beer. That, singing songs, killing a Thursday NYT crossword, and waking up to infinity stretching off into the distance and it was an alright time indeed.Thank you to AMR for the snap of the surfboards and for inviting me along for a little tag-team-third-wheel.
Maybe it’s the time I’ve been spending aboard Journelle’s The Grey Lady—an airstream trailer retrofit as a rolling lingerie salon and champagne den— but I can’t get the graceful silver bullets out of my mind. Oh, adventure!
This week has been a big one! The fruits of our labor haven’t yielded any fruit, but rather two vast looking stretches of dark brown dirt, a glorious site, ready for fruit. The beautiful old fashioned bulbs and wild violets that had graced them moved on to greener pastures, and the spiny weeds that had all but taken over tugged and dismissed by Sweetheart (who, in his dirty white V-neck and busted old Levis looks as much the dirt farmer as he does at home on the last reaches of the A-train, le sigh le swoon). Our beehive boxes are built, we are moving on to the innerworkings of the hives, while our bees, as stymied by the cold snaps as the redbuds and forsythia, won’t get here til May, but we’re getting ready. All of this homesteading, though, doesn’t mean that when sweet Miss Lucy sends me the above video that BAM WANDERLUST HITS YOU LIKE VERTIGO and maybe I should leave all that dirt in the dust and hit the road. And thus is life. How sweet it is.
After a few too many days (or far too few, depending on your point of view) of beer battering and deep frying ourselves, Sweetheart and I lit out of New Orleans headed for the swamp. Listening to WWOZ 90.7 (which just might actually be the “greatest radio station in the known world”, as they say. I recommend judging for yourself here). The great vast and secret network of swamp trails and lagoons that spreads over south Louisiana like a heavy green petticoat has been a place of utter romance and adventure for me since I was little. Daddy used to tell me tales of a one-eyed alligator who wore a beret and an eyepatch and cruised the bayous making merry and trying to stay out of trouble and the sights of hapless poachers named Bubba and Ernest (one time he caught a train to Galveston by rolling off an aqueduct onto a bed of coal-car sugarcane, but that’s another story), followed quickly by Nancy Drew’s bayou adventures, the smoke hazed tales of mooncussers and rum runners using the natural canals for piracy under dead moons, and, of course, the song “The Battle of New Orleans”, which, I believe, is an entirely factually accurate account of said battle (including the part where they use an alligator as a cannon when theirs melts). So. Let’s just say I have a bayou kinship. Our destination: The Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve on the very land where the Battle of New Orleans happened (! in 1814 !), and hiked the four mile bayou trail. We saw two gators (neither in beret or eyepatch, which is just because my gator is too smart to hang out by the trail), a scarlet ibis, and miles and miles of lacy mire, loud with cicadas, and (our luck) full of strange cool breezes. You’d better hope that the next time I see you, I’ll have outgrown the pretty bad cajun accent I acquired walking around these swamps, but it’s not looking good dere, cher.
And in case you forgot, some good gator advice.
The best places are always on the side of the road. Like the infinite honey-charred stick-meat shacks of so many Caribbean islands, the baskets of cactus flower fruits of Morocco, the boiled peanuts in styrofoam cups of the American South. Just pull over, make a u-ey, turn a little dust, get your perfect bananas. Your local honeys that taste like sweet sage flower and smoke. Your steaming tamales cooked over wood fires. Carry a small knife, ask for spice or pickled anything or sauce, and definitely eat whatever they give you.
In this year of 30th birthdays, it seems as if all bets are off. I mean, sure, for 28 you should schlep yourself to the local bar and toast a few, and for 29 you should meet up for the big dinner, but for THIRTY, well, that’s a whole new ballgame. We’re talking major celebrations, we’re talking islands, we’re talking oysters, we’re talking serious left-coast roadstripping down into Mexico hoping to pick up a beater accordion for >$25 on the way making sure to eat strange meats and lush fruits and, of course, the old head-scarves-and-jewels-and-jean-shorts-song-and-dance. So. I remain faithfully yours, off the grid in California, please follow our adventures over on Instagram (@featherbyfeather) to return next week very sunburnt and full of beans.
ps. I wish you were here.
Oh Adventure! Last weekend we got a wild hair, piled into Francine (Miss Jocie’s mobile… all good cars have names), and made our adventurers way to Storm King Art Center. Five women strong, scarves, leathers, the flush of possibility, (and we picked up Mike, king of beers and collars, on the side of the road), a wrecking crew to make our way. Just an hour north of the city, Storm King is an outdoor sculpture park situated on 500 acres of impeccably swooping jealous-Olmstead wild-meets-barely-tamed earth, dotted with monolithic sculptures. In a word, it is awesome. This time it also happened to be peak leaf season, PEEPINGPEAKING, and everything was suffused with the kind of beauty that you can’t stop talking about, the sheer hush and truth of where you are, who you’re with, how the air feels, how the golden-hour light looks, and the how-if-everything-hadn’t-happened-just-so we wouldn’t be here, but it DID so REVEL IN IT makes you utterly, totally full-hearted and giddy. Storm King is open through November, so get thee there, this weekend, do it. And after you do, order six pulled pork sandwiches and a parcel of tallboys, to go, from Barnstormer’s BBQ. At least that’s what we did. Here, some of the beauty:
So. I just finished reading The Grapes of Wrath for the first time. Seeing as how it’s Sweetheart’s favorite book and taking into account how much I loved The Red Pony in my girlhood, East of Eden in James Dean-tickled high school, and Travels with Charley in my burgeoning, adventure-loving adulthood, I have no idea how it slipped through the cracks. But, oh my, it’s been a long time since a book tore my heart up like this, made me wistful and lonely, chest-full with beauty and loss, and angry over how little some things have changed. If you haven’t read it, the changing of the seasons is a good time, and if you have, then you’ll love these incredible Dorothea Lange photographs of the Dust Bowl Migration (from the really fabulous Oakland Museum Archives). Because you wish you could pick a guitar, it’s a gracious thing, because you walk for the family and hold your head straight for the family, because you get use’ to a place, gets use’ to a way of thinkin’ it’s hard to leave. Because home is the center but not the boundary of affection. Home.