Sunday, April 8, 2012

Play ball, or rather don't

Long before my apprenticeship began, I can remember thinking about how awesome it was going to be carving away to the crack of the bat and pop of the glove, that modern Americana: radio Red Sox. Then I was reminded this weekend of how distractingly painful that can and will be. Fortunately Paul is a fan and can sympathize. Nick and Josh however are blissfully immune to the abuses inflicted by a game artfully described by the writer Robert Parker as the most important thing in life that doesn't matter. It's too early to begin carving the epitaph for Bobby V's Red Sox. But I might be equal to the challenge come September.

After an otherwise great weekend with Meg exploring the Cliff Walk and Newport in general, Friday seems a distant memory. But it is a fond memory as I was able to plow through letters E to most of M for a good groove.

But the highlights of the day had little to do with letters. After fish and chips at the Handy Lunch, Paul, Nick and I walked across the street to check out The Coronet Project, an attempt to restore what was once America's fastest schooner and a memorial to Gilded Age boat building to its former glory. An enormous hangar of sorts sided with translucent plastic paneling house the ongoing reconstruction on the grounds of the International Yacht Restoration School, and to encourage spectatorship, and no doubt awestruck benefactors, they've built a gallery running along three quarters of the perimeter for people to observe progress in action. Alas, the workers had gone to lunch.

The beautiful diffuse lighting let in by the paneling filled the hangar with a sense of captured sky, as if we were on the catwalk of a plexiglass zeppelin. The gallery is lined with decayed furnishings salvaged from what was left of The Coronet before the project began, tools, fittings and materials of every imaginable purpose, many to serve as templates for building replacements from scratch. A seaworthy hull alone will take about three years to complete. I'll definitely be checking in over the next 5 weeks, not that much more will get done in that span. But it's one of the coolest things I've seen in a long while. And I've recently seen a chrono-resonator.

Somewhere in Newport there lives a boat builder with purple tools. The other highlight came after quitting time, out behind the Shop. As John recited Auden, ran a bow across his fiddle and, as a stone carver's party trick, split a few pieces of Monson and Buckingham slate, friends gathered, the sun set, bottles emptied, all celebrating the end of a hard, good week. It would be easy to over-rhapsodize about the idyllic nature of these moments, but they are sweet indeed, the simple rewards of a sequence of well-made decisions and a little luck adding up to a meaningful way of life. There, I said it would be easy.

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