Tag Archives: fog

Throw it in the Sea

6 Nov

It was a little bit late, and I was standing in a Texas bar decorated primarily with sports-blinking televisions. Not my first choice, but one conveniently proximate to the hotel of some colleagues who were visiting from Scotland. We’d already haunted two other improperly lit establishments, and this was the gentlemen’s “nightcap” choice.

Dissatisfied with the single malt offerings, but goal-oriented just the same, we opted for Macallan 12. The conversation naturally turned to the prospect of my visiting Scotland in the near future. I was to tour a factory and then disappear to the tiny scrap of sea-wrapped land called Islay, where all of my favorite scotches are made.

I am to go in winter, when probably the friend with an airplane won’t be able to fly us across the channel and we’ll be forced to take a ferry instead. Some in the group said “It will be awful, that’s a terrible time of year.” But my favorite gentleman in the cohort saw it the way I would, through haze of damp fog and lost love drifting turbulently away and forever out of reach. Plus fog horns and some forlorn birds.

The group conversation dissolved into little eddies of private topics, and after a few sips of the speyside malt we were enduring this evening, my favorite discovered that I am indeed still failing in the pursuit of love. So I really would love to wander the peat bogs of austere Islay under guise of mist and evaporated sea salt in the dead of winter, I mused. It would be perfect.

He curled the words around the skeptical squint of a man who grew up on craggy terrain and is happy to golf in zero-visibility conditions. He turned to look at me.

“That’ll rip your heart out.” A growl of warning, testing my mettle.

Really, it will be perfect.

Enthusiasm thus validated, he let a smirk preface his next declaration. “Throw it in the sea!”

A pause while I laughed at his gesture of ripping heart from chest and casting it far from shore. “Let’s terrorize it.”

Indeed, let’s terrorize it. The poor trembling thing thought it felt the first tremblings of affection on the shores of San Francisco last week, let’s promise it to the cold undertow. Be punished, poor heart.

“No city invites the heart to come to life as San Francisco does,” quoth the pithy fake green chalkboard in the airport bar. And I nodded, heart awoken. But standing there in the sports-score illumination last night, I knew the Scot had the right idea. Give up, terrorize it. Don’t let anyone find it again.

Diesel Fumes

3 Nov

“The nose is powerfully phenolic – peat smoke, fishing nets, medicine cupboards, diesel oil – and the flavour translates the aroma faithfully, with seaweed, iodine and salt all being discernible. An old tar: the ancient mariner or salty sea dog of malt whiskies.”
—Charles MacLean, tasting notes for Laphroaig 10 in Malt Whisky

Before my eyes opened, my mind awoke to whispers of a specific sensory experience. Damp-chilled air pushed through translucent curtains and meandered across gray dot-dappled duvet to where my eyes and nose peeked out from warm depths.

Thinking aloud in the hushed cadence of our many conversations over days and hills, I asked, “Why do I recognize that scent? What is it.” Pause to silence because really I wasn’t making any sense. A couple more synapses fired and the neural paths connected and I exclaimed, “Oh! It’s Laphroaig! The ocean air here smells exactly, and I really, really mean exactly, like the salty top layer of my favorite scotch.”

Another deep breath, greeted with a muffled “Really?” from the other side of the bed.

Eyes opened now, and then closed again. “I’ve never been able to identify the salt air smell they always talk about in the tasting notes, but now I can finally detect it! It’s a very, very specific scent.”

And I lay there, drinking scotch air, counting the breaths I could take before returning to prairie desert and emotional calamity. But then I stopped counting and simply tried to detail the experience for precise recollection when next I truly needed relief.

Now I take a long breath in the shadiest corner of sunny Texas living room and the tendrils of quiet comfort restore me to balance. Elsewhere, sea-born fog creeps across a neighborhood named for the sunset rarely seen there, and curtains buffet the broad leaves of a tropical plant. A cat nestles under covers abandoned by a boy who is likely on a bicycle, riding along the coast.

Tracing these contours in my topographical memory, I actually keep my promise to have quiet days and grant myself relief from the stress of strength. For seven days in San Francisco, I felt the softness that arrives when someone else takes care of the details. Now that the show runner has returned home, I want to just keep a fraction of that relinquishment.

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