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Walking the Docks at Night

Different marinas have different sounds at night. Down below and forward in the vee berth, a fast running tide divided at the bow sends water gurgling by on both sides of you, and sometimes a bit of debris bumps along as it passes. If the air is warm and stale and  you’ve opened every hatch and porthole to encourage even the slightest breeze, all the sounds of a new place are let in too. They come alive when the sun is down. They come out like nosy cats –lurking, sniffing, looking in– curious about your boat and you. You hear them walking all around –on the docks and then on deck.

There’s a constant metallic “tinkling” (like wind chimes) from the forest of masts. There’s the occasional thunk, clank and bumpity-bump bump. What sounds like a garden hose pouring water into the sea is either a bilge pump –or an actual garden hose– pouring water into the sea. It runs for a while then stops, runs for a while then stops. The dock lines strain and creak.

The path to restful sleep becomes lost in the symphony of boat slips at night.

Eventually, you give up wanting sleep and go topsides to walk the docks under the stars. You observe the culprit fenders (“bump-bump …bumpity-bump-bump-bump”) and the loose halyards (“slappity-slap-slap” against metal masts) and then, a few boats further down, a handsome wooden dinghy tapping against a not-so-handsome (near dilapidated) wooden ketch.

Welcome to the neighborhood, a foreign place of familiar habits.

Walking further along, accustomed to the sounds by now, you’re become more interested in sizing up the personalities of your new dock neighbors. Initially you weigh in one man’s choice of a cutter versus another guy’s ketch. Or a pilothouse canoe stern versus center cockpit or a catamaran. You look to see whether lines are neatly coiled or still lying where dropped in a madman’s heap. Rust weeping from portholes in combination with lines neatly stowed indicates the likelihood of a veteran sailor having just come in from someplace far.

As you go along (“thunk, clank, bumpity-bump-bump, slappity-slap-slap” and the tinkling wind chimes sounds of masts), you draw what conclusions you can from boat names –from what they say and also how they look –painted, stenciled or decaled– across different transom shapes.

Perhaps you have to be a boater yourself to appreciate the slightly teetering and bobbing festival along the docks, an odd, open-air cultural experience combining music, visual art and at least a bit of poetry sometimes. 

—Tim Bryant
   Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

BIG arts project needs your help

I need your help with a Big CONCEPTUAL ART Project I’m developing. Good News: it won’t cost you a dime. And it’ll be LOTS of fun!

Pineapple Heads already know that prior to working at ad agencies I worked at a

Islands wrapped in fabric by the artist Christo. (Conceptual art)
Islands wrapped in fabric by the artist Christo. (Conceptual art)

large arts council in Florida, and that have a strong interest in conceptual arts such as Christo’s work wrapping islands in fabric, placing yellow umbrellas across the landscape of Japan, and stretching a billowing curtain across two counties in California. Cool!

When I parked my sailboat and moved to rural South Carolina, it was

GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: The blue rubber pool, purchased while Pineapple Hill was being built, was ugly and weird but a lot of fun while it lasted. I added the privacy fence after a UPS guy came and went while I was “asleep” on my pool float.

Christo that inspired “island surrounded by cows” concept for Pineapple Hill. I built the beach house up on pilings in a cow pasture then gave it a boathouse, surfboards and oyster roasts. The cows showed up on their own –an endorsement as I see it.

Still, my transition to Jonesville, South Carolina, wasn’t easy. I felt, truly, like a fish out of water. I tried swimming in the Jonesville

These guys are playing "duck ball" in their blue rubber pool. Do you know about Duck Ball?
These guys are playing “duck ball” in their blue rubber pool. Do you know about Duck Ball?

Reservoir (across the pasture and through the woods from The Hill) but never felt at ease. Too many snakes …plus the possibility of a ranger sneaking up (since swimming isn’t allowed there).

So I bought a blue rubber pool. An ugly one. A very weird one. The kind that resemble a big blue rubber mushroom…

There's something very neat about getting so much from a cheap blue rubber pool.
There’s something very neat about getting so much from a cheap blue rubber pool.

It cooled me off on hot summer days. Brought back the sound of splashing gurgling water and, too, the sensation of floating, weightless and carefree. It provided a lot of laughs at a time I most needed them. And time to think, floating ’round and ’round, clockwise or counter clockwise according to my mood and my adjustment of the jets.

I loved that freaky pool. I can’t explain it but there’s a bit of attitude built in –a sense of what  Harley-Davidson riders mean when they say (“if you have to ask, you wouldn’t understand.”)

Either you get it, intuitively, or you don’t.

THAT SAID, MY big arts project PROPOSAL IS AS FOLLOWS…

I want to create a website dedicated to blue rubber pools and the people that love them; that have been changed by them; that understand their similarity to space ships; that have written poems in them, and dreamed big dreams in them.

I want photos of your blue rubber pool along

Yellow Umbrellas --another conceptual art project brought to the world by the genius of Christo.
Yellow Umbrellas –another conceptual art project brought to the world by the genius of Christo.

with your stories, essays, poems, observations, inspired thoughts, dreams …whatever you’ve …as long as it relates to a cheap rubber pool.

I want to tell the world our story. I want to build a masterpiece of conceptual art with all of us inside it.

Send your stuff to me via tim bryant (at) pineapplehillsc (dot) com.

Another way you can help

is simply spreading the word. Point people to this proposal using Twitter, Linked In, Facebook, etc. and help make #BlueRubberPool bigger than I can alone.

I don't know who Lucian is but he appears to get the Christo concept.
Will probably end up with a lot of photos and stories like this one …but that’s okay I guess. Pablo Picasso said “The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing image, from a spider’s web.” I’m going to update that by adding “…and from the Internet.”

Make it one big pool party!

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— Tim, Surf Director

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Bone up on Christo here

help your local animal shelter

This weekend, make time to stop by your local animal shelter. See what they need. Supplies… Manpower… Cash… Publicity…

Chip in anyway you can…

As much as you can…

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Don’t have a dog in your life? …What are you waiting for?!!!! They’re the best bud you’ll ever have. (Once you’ve trained them to not poop in the house.)

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Our pound pup Jack was made possible by the Union County Animal Shelter. They’ve come all the way out to Pineapple Hill to pick up a few donations. Call them. See what they need. Do it today.

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Life is too precious to not go through it with man’s best friend at your side.

Or a cat.

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Meet Jack.

— Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

The Number 3-1-6

Cow #3-1-6 played a significant role in the book Blue Rubber Pool
about my transition to the South Carolina boonies (i.e., Jonesville,
South Carolina). One role had to do with this cow. The other role
related to something that happened in Central America.

Get your copy at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other retailers.

Our American Free Enterprise System

[Rooting through that box from the liquor store where I toss my writings and doodles, I found a bunch of cartoon sketches from 30 years ago.]

This one, called Understanding Our American Free Enterprise System, has a guy at a chalk board pointing out the larger size of a normal mouse brain compared to the way smaller mouse brain invented by a guy named Herman Stienway. The caption says Herman Stienway couldn’t build a better mouse trap so he built a stupider mouse.
— Tim Bryant
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

 

Jonesville History: De Soto

Taking a lesson from the ancient Chinese general Sun Tzu, I’ve been gathering intel on my surroundings—most recently Jonesville history. Get this: Hernando De Soto strolled through here in 1540.

That’s right. It’s believed that Spanish explorer/conquistador Hernando de Soto passed through the Jonesville area in 1540 while leading the first European expedition deep into the territory of the modern-day United States. He was the first European documented to have crossed the Mississippi River.

Here’s an excerpt from information gleaned from the Internet…

“…on Monday, the seventeenth of that month, they (with De Soto) departed from there and spent the night in a forest (near Jonesville); and on Tuesday they went to Guaquili (Spartanburg), and the Indians came forth in peace and gave them corn, although little, and many hens roasted on barbacao, and a few little dogs, which are good food. These are little dogs that do not bark (opossum?), and they rear them in the houses in order to eat them. They also gave them tamemes, which are Indians who carry burdens. And on the following Wednesday they went to a canebrake (Inman), and on Thursday to a small savanna (Landrum) where a horse died (probably of starvation); and some foot soldiers of (Captain) Gallegos arrived, making known to the Governor that he was approaching.”

Perhaps they slept in my back pasture, the one called “The Bottoms.” Who knows what all they did back there: Bonfires, howling late into the night, taking pot shots at the moon.

Just like me.

— Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

Jonesville History: Peg Leg Jackson

Here’s another Jonesville History lesson related to music…

[Stolen from Wikipedia…]

Born here in Jonesville, South Carolina, Arthur Jackson, known as Peg Leg Sam (December 18, 1911 – October 27, 1977) was an American country blues harmonicist, singer and comedian. He recorded “Fox Chase” and “John Henry” and worked in medicine shows.[1] He gained his nickname following an accident whilst hoboing in 1930.

Peg Leg Sam taught himself to play harmonica as a small child. He left home at the age of 12 and never stopped roving. He shined shoes, worked as a houseboy, cooked on ships, hoboed, and then made a living busking on street corners. He lost his leg in 1930,[4] trying to hop a train but made a peg out of a fencepost, bound it to his stub with a leather belt and kept moving.

He joined the medicine show circuit in 1937, often performing with Pink Anderson—from whom Pink Floyd got its names. His ability to play two harmonicas at once (while one went in and out of his mouth) made him an attraction; he could also play notes on a harmonica with his nose.

Two of my neighbors in Jonesville, wonderful old fellows well into their nineties, recall fishing with Arthur as boys and running into him later, in Chicago, on their way to WWII while Arthur was traveling. They’ve shared some great stories about their childhood friend and I’ll add them here later.

— Tim Bryant
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

A Toast To Hardships And Imperfections

[Found this while cleaning out some files on my laptop. Originally dated September 10, 2015]

 

Wanting to explain my surprise and excitement over a batch of wine derived from the Pineapple Hill “test vineyard”, I went looking for something Hemingway had said about trial and error… I ended up at a blog post about kintsukuroi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with seams of gold such that the container is made more beautiful than ever. What a perfect metaphor for where I am, finally, in my life now after having been, for the longest time it seemed, the poster child for “Stuff Happens”.

First, the transition to rural South Carolina from city life wasn’t as easy as planned (more on that another time –I’m writing a book called Blue Rubber Pool). Then, in rapid succession, my dog died, then a good friendship ended, then the recession hit as I was building an unusual house with an already unpredictable construction budget, then I lost my mom and daughter while, also, my dad slipped deeper into dementia. Then some other things happened too. Let’s just say I could write the sorriest country song ever.

All I could do was keep breathing. Keep forging ahead (like a sailboat pressing on, tacking back and forth, sometimes even backtracking and sidestepping, to cross a spot of snotty sky and pissed off sea). And, when I could, to clear my mind, go out to the pathetic little vineyard to tinker with its raggedy grapevines.

What you need to know, here and now, is that I once killed a 27-year-old Bonzai tree after owning it less than two weeks. My thumbs are not green. I do some things very well but other things not well at all. There’s a lot of hit and miss involved. For instance, some of my grapevines died slow horrible strangling deaths due to poor soil conditioning or not enough water. Others went down in the blink of an eye (weed wacker …or lawn tractor). And every year the making of the wine itself got better only enough to give another try next time (it’s amazing how even the seemingly thinnest of screw ups causes vivid red to become rusty brown practically overnight).

If you’ve seen The Replacements, you know what is meant by “quicksand” (the sudden arrival of an inexplicable force that pulls you down in a succession of setbacks). Others might call it a rut. Or bad karma. For me that succession of bad things that happened felt as if I’d walked into a giant sticky spider web and, no matter how hard I tried, couldn’t shake it off. Or like attempting to dislodge a streamer of toilet paper stuck to a shoe exiting an airport restroom.

But this year the grapes were good. Despite the drought, the deer, the weed wacker and all else, they were bigger and tastier and more abundant. And for the first time, a sampling of last year’s juice (between rackings) tasted just fine.

And a bunch of other great things have opened up around me –causing the world to feel like a meadow full of wildflowers again.

I will always miss the people I’ve lost …but I’ve discovered in myself the presence of a new resilience. Or, getting back to kintsukuroi, I’m improved from having been broken.

I’ve labeled this latest batch of wine “Pineapple Hill Blended Catawba Puerto”. Every glass is a toast to hardships and imperfections.

 “The world breaks everyone, then some become strong at the broken places.”
Ernest Hemingway

Here’s a link to that blog about kintsukuroi

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–Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

Ocean Almanac

I love the sea and everything about it—its animals, islands,
pirates, old wooden ships, sunken treasures, early explorers, surfers,
hurricanes, danger and soothing spirituality—and so Hendrickson’s Ocean Almanac
is the anchor to my cruising library for long lazy days of dicking around under
sail.

This wonderful collection of facts—both impressive and
trivial—has logged plenty of hours on my boat and in my duffel bag. Its pages
are torn, dog-eared, smudged with tanning oil thumb prints, and spattered with
coffee and rum.

Sure, you can access this stuff online but don’t blame me if
one night, way out beyond the cell towers, you all of a sudden find yourself
jonesing to read about sea lice, the location of the planet’s major sea
currents, or Buster Crabbe’s Rules for Safe Swimming.

If there’s not a copy kept ready at your boat or beach
house, you’re an amateur.

Don’t be that.