Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Dodging the Angora Bullet

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. ~ Emerson

Will do, Ralph, but some some evenings even exceed "best." That I spent said evening in a $6 thrift store dress I bought last May with no event in mind only served to make me feel both virtuous and celebratory.

Surely the best New Year's Eve blowouts begin in late afternoon because it's one holiday that is a marathon, not a sprint. Ours kicked off on Clay Street with Mr. Wright supplying a bottle of Clos Lentiscus Blanc de Noirs Brut Nature - chosen as a nod to 2019 agenda items - to set an appropriately festive mood.

That the bubbles were from a groovy, bio-dynamically-farmed single vineyard planted just south of Barcelona in the 1930s only added to the wine's romance, while the second fermentation being helped along courtesy of rosemary honey from the estate's beehives - picaresque much? - made for heady, pastoral sipping.

To you, Espana.

Three-hours were disappeared in the name of traditional NYE rituals involving Shakespeare, a unicorn and the best kind of crunch before our Uber driver appeared and whisked us to Aloi.

There we lounged in near darkness until Pru and Beau showed up. Both were a tad under the weather, but had nonetheless donned festive attire - Beau's textured, burgundy blazer, a Christmas gift from Pru, and pink shirt were swingin' '70s cool (a fact I know because I made my college boyfriend a blazer exactly that color), while Pru's teal velvet leggings and shoulder-dusting earrings conveyed the usual subtle sophistication - and gathered their forces for the big night.

Seated at a central table, everyone agreed that the recessed lighting above the table was too direct, too bright while the table beside ours sat in near darkness. That aside, consensus was how un-Richmond the vibe felt with the added oomph of NYE. The time Mr. Wright and I had been there, our perch was two stools on the far end of the bar, so a much different experience.

The menu for the evening involved an amuse bouche, a bubbly intermezzo and four choices. so I got to taste everything. Best in class goes to a couple of goodies I cadged off Mr. Wright's plate: wild mushrooms lightly fried up over peppedew romesco with a killer topping of sauteed sweet onions and endive escabeche (the contrasting textures! the balanced flavors!) and then Morrocan-spiced lamb over toasted fergola (golden raisin gastrique, mmm).

Every bit as welcome as the tasty chow was how well served we were, never rushed, Montand Blanc de Blancs flutes and water glasses never fully empty, as our hospitable server aided our cause unobtrusively with grace and stealth. I call that good service, especially on a busy night.

When the subject of hoe cakes came up - as it inevitably does at smart dinner parties - Beau shared that his only experience with them involved Bisquick and water griddled until near-charred blackness was achieved. He was quickly brought up to speed: "That's hardtack."

"That's why you like war," Pru deadpanned.

Although we'd allowed two and a half hours for dinner, before I knew it I was polishing off my dark chocolate mousse bar and accepting bites of sticky date cake with grilled pineapple (a swanky take on pineapple upside down cake without the vertigo) so we could walk around the block to Richmond Triangle Players.

Our objective was a 10:30 cabaret called "Scott Wichmann: A Very Good Year," a plan hatched by Mr. Wright and Beau, albeit independently of each other.

With a three-piece combo backing him, Scott dazzled the sold-out crowd with gems like "Strangers in the Night," the "Love Boat Theme" and, perhaps most charmingly of all, "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" a 1947 song that takes me back to my parents' Christmas records. Invoking a 21st century Rat Pack feel, complete with e-cigarette, Scott demonstrated how effortlessly he can fill a theater twice in one night.

So. Much. Talent.

Even more adorable were the parts of the show that included his talented wife Eva DeVirgilis because of how unabashed they are in their over-the-moon happiness at having found each other.

Talk about people mooning over each other.

It was only after the show ended and we were heading out of the theater that Pru's first rule of picture-taking was blatantly ignored. (see Chapter 5, section 7, sub-article 3.92)

1. Pictures are always taken at the beginning of the evening, never at the end. No one looks fresher or more attractive after eight hours of revelry than they did just after getting doodied up. [paraphrased]

The woman's not wrong.

Even so, pictures of loopy people surfaced today, proof that having fun makes up for a lot of late night sins in terms of photographic documentation. I was only sorry I had on my coat, thus despriving my $6 dress of its shot at immortality.

So that was yesterday's best day of the year.

Today's best day of the year got a late start when Mac returned from her NYE revelry in Charlottesville so we could do our First Day Walk mid-afternoon. Since it's been months since we could get on the pipeline from the western end, we resolved for New Year's Day to climb down on the eastern end and walk it to the flooded part and back.

Upside of this decision? It had been far too long since we'd made our favorite local walk. Downside: Fair weather/newly resolved weekend warriors, meaning the pipeline was lousy with first-timers and families, one of whom carried a scooter, a decision that can only be called imbecilic on a narrow walkway over a raging river.

And raging it was, so much so that Mac and I, regular pipeline walkers that we've been for years, felt strongly that James River Parks should have had the chained off sign at the end of the walkway to prevent people unused to walking it from attempting to given how high and fast the water was.

"Especially the kind of people we saw on here today," Mac, the most tolerant person on the planet, pointed out.

But they didn't, so we took advantage and walked to the edge of where the river was covering the pipeline and promptly made a U-turn. The way back was our usual direction, which afforded us a comparison of what we would normally see in terms of the river's flow and ferocity and what we were seeing today.

Two of the usual crazy kayak types were bobbing up and down on Class IV rapids that probably qualify for Class V right now. A couple was scavenging for old railroad spikes, amassing their rusty collection on the walkway itself.

I feel sure we got some kind of science lesson as we walked, shivering to the cold dampness of the air between the supports of the railroad track above us and then feeling the temperature rise when we had river on both sides of us. Every now and then, we'd walk through an especially warm pocket of air and had no idea where it came from. When the river hit the pipeline just right, we got splashed by water that felt very January-like on my bare legs.

On the north bank where it's rocky, I spotted a Great Blue Heron, wet and hunkered down, putting off an I'm-not-happy vibe about having to still deal with whitewater when all you want is dinner. But even miserable, the heron was striking, the white feathers around its eyes in marked contrast to the blue feather tips huddled around its chest.

Pipeline fix aside, any day that has me opening all my windows before breakfast definitely qualifies as best day of the year.

2019, maybe it's much too early in the game, but if you're half as dazzling as last year, please send more of same.

In the pantheon of very good years, 2018 took my breath away.

No comments:

Post a Comment