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Turning the corner: May flowers

Did you ever drive home and not remember getting there? Sometimes you get in the car, switch on autopilot and next thing you know you’re home. It’s because the drive was routine and uneventful. It’s because the route was familiar, and often you are in your own thoughts which are invariably about not driving. It’s because eventually we learn to block out the minutia, even when it is everything we do.

When we say that life is made up of highs and lows, I think that’s what we’re getting at. Events that stick with us because they were different than expected. These events don’t have to be momentous. They simply can be the result of getting jarred out of our everyday rote and getting to see what life is like if you’re paying closer attention.

That’s the fun thing about taking a lot of phone photos, especially if you have to revisit them all every year. They make you recall things you might otherwise have forgotten. What I remember about May was one particular day when it was outrageously hot. I covered the oddest cultural event I ever would (a tractor pull) followed by a beer festival in Cambridge.

According to the memories jogged by the photos I took, I hit some personal and professional highs and lows in May. The upshot was I  ended with me devoting more time to ShoreCraftBeer.com (the OceanCity.com sister site) and writing for fun generally. This ultimately gave me the opportunity to come on board here. But before that, I get a little extra writer head from my friends at Dogfish Head and Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach.

beer and books
Alex Colevas and Matt Funk at my favorite book signing ever. Kind of.

Alex Colevas, the manager of Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach, is a huge craft beer fan. She thought it would be a good idea to have a signing and a tasting. Alex invited me to do the signing and Matt Funk of Dogfish Head to do the tasting. My first book Eastern Shore Beer had come out earlier that year and, as ground zero for the Delaware craft beer revolution, Rehoboth was a great place to push the idea of craft beer.

It has to be said though, that Matt brought more popular things than did I—free beer. It kept people coming by and (incredibly) I had the opportunity to tell people that Dogfish Head was practically across the street, because a lot of them didn’t know. I didn’t move a ton of books for Browseabout, though, which was a little humbling. Frankly, though, I’m the kind of guy who needs a little humbling now and again. Mostly now, but also again.

Tony at a tractor pull
And nothing is more humbling than covering a tractor pull.

Hi. I’m in Delaware.

I don’t recall the movie Wayne’s World too well, but when I was working in Delaware my wife repeated it to me with some regularity. This tractor pull, it occurs to me, might have taken place in Maryland. I covered the outskirts of the Delaware/Maryland divide, which is farmland and therefore an arbitrary delineation.

I want to say right up front that everyone running a tractor likely knew more about engines and torque (and probably physics generally) than did I. Like NASCAR or any other motor-driven event, there is a very specialized knowledge at play and committed people putting their ingenuity up against that of their peers. It really is a contest of who is the cleverest person with the most will.

A tractor pull works like this: They hook a tractor of to a machine that gets heavier as it moves (it has to do with resistance) and the tractor pulls the machine about 100 yards. This happens over and over for different size tractors over the course of an afternoon. Dozens and sometimes scores of people turn out to watch.

You get the sense, though (or at least I did) that the ingenuity on display isn’t what draws the crowd. What draws the crowd is the volume and the violence that comes in any display of power. Suffice it to say that I’m comfortable guessing that if you’ve read this far into my self-indulgent essay, you either never have been to a tractor pull, or have competed in a tractor pull, or have come to the same conclusion.

Here’s what the tractor pull looked like (note the dude smoking on the top right). This is essentially the way I powered into June…


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