athwartships, says the foremast jack



See that, motherscratchers? We live in a weathervane neighborhood – half the people on our block have them, and now I understand why. When the wind comes from the west – the ocean – it’s a cold, fishy blast that ensures your vegetables won’t grow. But when it comes from any other direction (like east, shown above), it means it’s from the desert, and we can finally start having SPRING again.

Yes, I know Southern California isn’t supposed to have “weather”. But at the beach, that’s all different – we get seasons just like anyone else, and winter sucks green donkey balls. These are the days when you are reminded of fantastic times ahead and behind.

It is days like today, when the afternoons begin to yawn out to lingering evenings, that remind me of those early spring trips in North Carolina. Quick jaunts to the beach, or a stunningly spontaneous trek to New Orleans, when sitting in the shade is chilly, but the sun is almost too hot. It begs a flannel tied around the waist, it begs a jack and coke, it begs a decision to blow off a plan and chart an alternate course for the evening.

It was on days like this when you’d wind up kissing someone in your class you didn’t know was so beautiful until just this instant. Solo walks became serendipitous meetings, get-togethers became parties, and parties became legendary. In grade school, kids’ hands stick to the desk with a little sweat, as they look outside to an afternoon pregnant with possibility… how can they expect us to do math, when the world just threw open its arms?

I live in a weathervane neighborhood, and I live as a weathervane man. I spin, occasionally pointing in ghastly directions, but today let’s all assume we’re blowing in from warm savannahs, and everything is in its place.

0 thoughts on “athwartships, says the foremast jack

  1. jason savage

    and if you’re a baseball fan, check out Bar Giammati’s essay “The Green Fields of the Mind” for some vivid descriptions of warm weather and baseball and how the end of baseball heralds the dreary days.

  2. GFWD

    Ian, great post.
    Jason, the first few sentences of A. Bartlett Giammati’s essay were read by James Earl Jones as the lead off for the 1989 World Series closing montage (that was the Loma Prieta earthquake series). If I am not mistaken, the former commish was also actor Paul Giammati’s (“Sideways”) dad. Here’s the part that was on that montage, which is what you were talking about, methinks:
    It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.

  3. CM

    Wonderfully written. Thank you.
    I especially love: “It is days like today, when the afternoons begin to yawn out to lingering evenings, that remind me of those early spring trips in North Carolina..”

  4. emma

    Another greatest post ever!
    My only critique and it is only a matter of opinion – the “begs jack and coke” phrase. Jack and coke means football weather, that cold weather is on the way. The weather that the weathervane today brings means put up the jack and coke til September and bring out the tangueray and splash it with some tonic and a lime.

  5. litlnemo

    GFWD, I love that quote.
    Here in Seattle when the wind comes from the south, believe it or not, it’s winter. You would think it would be warmer, but no.
    I can always tell when the weather’s about to start sucking when the curtains in the south windows start blowing inward.
    During the summer the breeze comes from other directions, but in the winter it’s south wind all winter long.
    We are still waiting for Spring to properly kick in up here. And then I will go to Safeco Field and bask in the eternal hope that is baseball.

  6. Neva

    This was a great one Ian.
    I had the same reaction as Emma about the Jack and Coke – perhaps for a good reason as we shared many of those at football games, but I digress.
    My choice for spring would be cold beer from a pitcher perhaps.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.