Wednesday, October 27, 2004

We Are Stardust 

Saturday, October 2, 2004

My dizzy head crammed with grand ideas and cheese, last night I rashly declared that I’d be up before sunrise on assignment.
And so here I was, barely awake, camera in hand. The air was heavy and damp like a bag of freshly bathed puppies, the ground saturated with dew. All was misty perfection. I wandered up the track through the woods to the top pond and waited for the sky to lighten. I thought about the bear Mark had told us about, and was thankful not to be smelling of Snickers bars that morning. I’m quite pleased with some of these photos.
On the down side, I had to put new socks on when I got back, messing up my strictly planned underwear changing schedule. A bit of a pisser, but hey, life is for living and you only get one. One life, that is. Socks usually come in pairs.

By the time we got to Woodstock - no, not the famous one, but when will I get the chance to say that again? - the sky had clouded over and not unlike hobbits, we were ready for second breakfast. A rock band on the green was playing Ain’t No Sunshine. I put three quarters in the parking meter, and we headed for the Mountain Creamery.

I love the smell of diners in the morning. I like the noise and bustle and the comings and goings. I like the way the waiting staff flit so effortlessly from table to table, filled with purpose and poise. And doesn’t everything hang together so beautifully in diners? Everybody has their part to play, and the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts.
When we left, the band was still playing Ain’t No Sunshine.

Woodstock, Vermont - a few miles west of the Connecticut River if you’re following our journey with an atlas and your favourite highlighter pen - fancies itself as a bit more swanky than other tourist towns. Still, there’s a great covered bridge, some nice galleries and we continued to do our bit for American book retailers with barely a thought for how we’d get the bloody things home again.
There was a Chili Cookoff going on, but we were saving our appetites for that evening’s big dinner engagement .

A frequent talking point amongst fellow guests at the inn was how absurdly difficult it is to book a table at The Old Tavern. It’s the only restaurant in Grafton, and yet the management seem ambivalent about whether or not to bother with customers. You can turn up, find the place all but empty, and still be turned away.
There was a nice young couple from Texas who were really keen to eat there. Apparently it’s quite famous and they wanted to try it for themselves, but their attempts to make a booking had all ended in rejection.
The previous night Mark, our convivial innkeeper, had had to cajole and humour and ask to speak to the manager and make all sorts of unseemly promises in order to reserve a table for four.
So that evening, me and Girlfriend shook the creases out of our poshest tops and joined W and D for a very pleasant meal in the rarefied, oak panelled splendour of New England’s most reluctant restaurant.
They told us what a great place Austin, Texas is, especially when the South By Southwest festival is on. He used to be a college football goalkeeper who trained by diving onto a goalmouth full of chairs, while she had an uncanny resemblance to the Duchess of York and was expecting her first. It seemed like it would have been rude to say so, because they were so lovely.
The bill, when it arrived, had me and Girlfriend wondering if we could somehow re-schedule our mortgage payments and maybe get part-time jobs in the evenings.

I slept very well. I dreamed I saw the bombers riding shotgun in the sky and they were turning into butterflies above our nation.

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