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Wednesday, 10 May 2006 00:00

Recommended diversions

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Spring

One diversion in my life this past month was the weather. Surely this spring is among the most gorgeous of the last two decades. There is a lush, warm quality to the landscape this season, and the very air and sunlight seem to have combined to form a sort of chamber orchestra of beauty from the mountains around us. So if you haven’t looked out your window lately, I’d start there.

On a more sober note

One recent commentator reporting from Paris told of a French friend who assured him that the United States had overreacted to terrorism and that we had exaggerated the Muslim riots in France last winter. Apart from the fact that so few Americans of my acquaintance had any idea, even at the time, that the Muslim youth of France were helping boost the French economy by burning automobiles, that American baiting Frenchman and tens of millions of other Europeans should know full well by now that Europe is in the midst of an unprecedented decline, a literal decline in population. Of the eleven states in the European Union, not one has a replacement native population level, and many, including Germany, Spain, and Italy, are already experiencing the beginnings of a slide in population that will vastly affect their societies. For a full account of European suicide, read George Weigel’s article at aldaily.com or in this month’s issue of Commentary. In addition, there is an old axiom: He who has the most babies wins. While European young people are playing and living with Mom and Pop, European Moslems are having babies. A hundred years from now the high fashion along the Seine may well be the burkha and the veil. Doubtless we Americans will still be receiving advice and criticism from our wiser continental cousins. The more things change ....

A less sober note

Aging brings different delights. The acquaintance who 30 years ago enjoyed a bottle of Boone’s Farm Wine, who 20 years ago reveled in specialty beers, has now come to that stage of adulthood when the Martini brings particular solace. He is of the same opinion as Winston Churchill, that the vermouth bottle should merely be waved above the poured gin, and that the best martinis are those that are exquisitely chilled. John Gardner, author of Grendel and The Sunlight Dialogues and well known for his own love of gin, once replied when asked why he liked to hang out in the kitchen during parties: “It’s where the ice is.”

Driving

As we approach summer, the South offers a particular nighttime delight: driving on back roads. Requirements to get the most out of this midnight drive include a clear sky, a full moon, and beds of honeysuckle still redolent with the heat of day. Roll down your car windows, turn the air conditioning on high, crank up the stereo (or use a CD, preferably Creedence Clearwater Revival), and zip along the moonlit roads. P.S. Leave the gin at home.

— By Jeff Minick

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