On The Boil

Lobsters can get hot. When they are fresh from the lobster pot, steam cascading from their shells just after being deposited from the pot onto a lobster trap, you need to let those bad boys cool before you begin cracking shells and dealing with the boiling water to be found in every crack and crevice.

Fortunately there is a pretty scene, looking out over the islands off of Burnt Cove, as you wait for the steam to dissipate and the lobsters to cool. You take a sip of your wine—more than one, actually—and revel in the setting sun before you start to crush those shells and extricate the tender, succulent lobster meat. You see the setting sun carve a fiery torch into the surface of the salt water, and you wonder why anyone would want to be anywhere else at this special moment in time.

Then the sun sinks lower, and you understand Homer’s reference to the wine dark sea, and you relish the taste of the absolutely fresh, steaming lobster meat, and you hope that this summer will last forever, even as your conscious mind knows that it cannot.

Austin’s Architecture

I’ve been meaning to write one last thing about our recent trip to Austin. If you’re interested in architecture, Austin is a must-visit destination. With the city growing like crazy, and new buildings being constructed everywhere you look, Austin allows a kind of real-time look at the direction of modern architecture.

So, what do you see in Austin’s new buildings? Lots of geometry, for the most part, and not much ornamentation. The ruffles and flourishes that you notice in older buildings—sometimes beautiful, sometimes garish, but almost always interesting—are long gone. The new buildings are sleek and gleaming, and in many instances the simple rectangle and cube designs that maximize the space under roof reign supreme.

But that doesn’t mean the architects don’t try to come up with visually interesting buildings. The Google headquarters building that is under construction and shown in the first photograph in this post is enormous, occupying an entire city block, but the design includes a graceful curve and, at the front of the building not visible in the picture, a unique stacking of floors that makes it look like the observer is peeking into the innards of the building. The design of the top of the building in the photograph immediately above tries to depart from the standard flat roof. And other buildings, like the eye-catching “Jenga” building shown in the bottom photograph in this post, make a statement by playing off the cube and rectangle look in an arresting way.

In the ancient architectural battle of form against function, functionality seems to be winning, but the architects look to be doing their best to add a dollop of flash and flair and inject some art into the architecture. And one other thing is clear: if you live or work in one of Austin’s new buildings, you are going to get lots of natural light, because windows—lots and lots of windows—are a dominant feature. That’s a good thing too, because it shows that today’s architects are concerned about the experience of the people inside the building as the people like me gawking at the skyscrapers from the outside.