I made this video when I was up North on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast: Check it out!
Note: This essay is meant to be read while listening to the above song, as it was the one playing in my ears when I experienced the below. No, you don’t have to listen, but I am endeavoring to recreate the experience with both images and sound that led to the meandering thoughts below. The music adds another layer of sensory experience, and certainly affected why I noticed what I did at the time, so it seems essential. But the author doesn’t insist upon your choosing ‘all or none’ of the art, (which has always struck me as awfully imperious, since everyone knows that art is about one’s experience of it, not what the artist wishes to communicate.) So enjoy – or not – as you will.
Situate yourself with me….
Weather: 88 degrees with splashes of water-from-the-sky-which-are-not-rain
Location: Port-of-Spain, Trinidad airport, Outside
Breezes in the Caribbean are often described as soft. And they are, but not in strength, because they are just as pushy as any others, but rather because as they briskly run across the skin, they incite nothing but pleasant thoughts. As they are devoid of a chill of any kind, it encourages dismissal of their existence, or maybe wonderment that you ever had the desire to tighten a scarf around your neck to keep such moving air – colder at home – from intruding upon warm skin. It’s easy to forget, when such breezes billow, that their Northerly cousins would have evinced goosebumps in dermal alarm.
I am waiting to be picked up. After debarking (a word which always reminds me of something terrible done to a dog, and having nothing to do with the sweet release from the jet), in which you made a kind of peace in the small spaces that you are afforded on planes, you are out in the world again, and it never seems as huge as when one exits the airport into the blue skies/puffy clouds of an ordinary Caribbean day. The flight was fine, thanks, and in fact I can barely remember it. Forgetting it is the best kind of flight experience.
The DHL, American Airlines, and other corporate flags flying right alongside those of the country that I am actually standing in do their whipping in the breeze flag thing. Even though I know that corporations have achieved personhood (according to the US government), I see that now they are attempting statehood as well, which is really no surprise. But any logo, stamped upon a flag that blows in the soft breezes of a perfect Caribbean day looks lovely, colors popping and waving despite their banal associations with package delivery and the unfortunately smelly plane that you barely remember now that real air, made by the surrounding sea and the trees on the hill over there, fills your lungs.
The word “cleanse” is bandied about as if we were all absolutely filthy, running around with drippy, dirtied noses and grime under our fingernails. But there’s the rub; though human beings have never had access to so many cleaning products, and kept such a distance from bacteria and viruses, we just feel grubbier every day. So much so that we’re all, obviously, in need of cleansing.
And I’m not one of those snarky Internet commentators; I feel this way sometimes too. I get it, so much so that I’ve done whole food cleanses and generally eat quite healthfully – I know that garbage in means I feel like trash the next day. And for every esoteric ailment, there is certainly someone willing to help you “cure” it. In the case of cleanses, whether juice-only or just low-toxin, it’s not exactly a secret that they can be prepared oneself for a very modest sum; some time online doing research and few organic ingredients that certainly won’t break the bank. But where’s the fun in that?
In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, writer Christina Binkley takes herself off to a (superluxey) spa in Malibu called the Ranch at Live Oak. While she is instructed to eliminate all sorts of substances before arrival (the usual suspects, including caffeine, alcohol, meat), she doesn’t, really, or just kinda does – and she’s in good company, as the rest of the group she’s a part of has also eschewed the deprivation. So, not surprisingly, she (and the rest of her cohort) get grumpy for a few days.
A few weeks ago I took a bit of a holiday and visited Jenn Cross, one of my best friends in all the world in her adopted hometown of London. I had a fantastic time as I always do, and one of the highlights was the amazing meal I ate with Jenn at The Duke of Cambridge, which bills itself as “Britain’s First Organic Certified Gastropub.” (A gastropub is a pub that serves food alongside delicious British and imported beers).
All food and drink is certified by the Soil Association, and aside from the food, the eatery does everything possible to lower its impact, including recycling building materials and furniture, kitchen waste, tin, paper, card, corks and glass. They compost food waste, and the pub’s electricity is solar and wind-generated. They clean with only nontoxic and biodegradable cleaning products and have gotten involved in food programs at local schools. Really, really impressive commitment to the environment, health and great food (which are, of course, inexorably intertwined).
Our menu changes twice daily, and our chefs create dishes according to what is at its peak of freshness and flavour. All our food is made at the pub – from the ice cream to the bread and pickles. You’ll always find two meat, two fish and two vegetarian main dish choices.
Our chefs buy produce directly from small independent local farmers, and they ensure that nothing goes to waste – for example, instead of buying individual cuts of pork (which is costly and wasteful) they buy a whole carcass and use every part of the animal. This way, the farmer gets a decent payment for his animal, nothing is wasted and you get to try a broad range of delicious dishes.
Our meal was fantastic; we started with a bottle of organic prosecco (top image), as a little bubbly was in order for our celebratory meal.
During my most recent trip across the pond, I stopped by London to check out London Fashion Week and visit my best friend, Jenn, who lives in my second-favorite city in the world (the first is NYC baby!). And thanks to a fortuitous hookup by the lovely Rachel Sarnoff over at Ecostiletto, I got a chance to connect with Livia Firth (yep, wife of Colin!) who runs Eco Age, a fabulous boutique in the Chiswick section of London.
And talk about walking the talk; Livia, as the wife of a Hollywood star, (Colin recently starred in Tom Ford’s directorial debut, A Single Man), is expected to turn up at red-carpet events looking fabulous, and this past Spring she took up Vogue UK’s ‘Green Carpet Challenge‘ – and came off beautifully, exploring all the ways of being sustainably stylish, from repurposing to seeking out designers who use ethical fabrics and dye techniques. Eco fashion at the Golden Globes and the Oscars? Livia did it!
Thanks to Livia Firth for the awesome tour of her store in London!
Livia gave me a tour (see video above) of her store, which carries her own carefully edited (and strictly vetted) selection of eco fashion, home decor, and great gifts, and in the basement, an eco-materials consultancy (which I had no idea of until I was on the tour!). The amazing thing is that with the breadth of categories she covers with what she sells in the store, her awesome recycled furniture initiatives for London Design Festival, and the learning space and consultancy for eco materials (think flooring, tiles, fabrics and wallcovering) Livia’s doing so much besides running a store.