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A Fat Man in Plaid Pants…
March has never been my favorite month. The free calendars that the local grain elevator handed out depicted the month in idyllic spring green, but the reality of March on the western prairies was far more bleak, featuring cold, snow, and the general malaise of ‘is this OVER yet?’. Add in sheep who stubbornly insisted upon going into labor at the far reaches of the pasture at midnight, and you have all the ingredients for misery. For years, I have favored Garrison Keillor’s description of March: ‘a fat man in plaid pants that don’t fit.’ You know- because it’s horrible but you can’t look away.
This March started out rather nicely, with weather so mild that I actually snuck in a ‘Gansett Beach day. My husband, wary of all that sunshine and warmth, started declaiming, ‘March, she is a fickle b****!’ to all and sundry. I told him to stop harshing my sunshine buzz.
I should have listened to him.
Because March has turned-honestly-vile. A frightening infection, illness, death, fear, misinformation, and-perhaps worst of all-uncertainty. Will schools be closed? For how long? What about restaurants? Retail? Can you still hold a planned event like a wedding? Will the entire country be forced to ‘shelter in place’? The rules change daily. I would go so far as to say that the only certainty now is uncertainty.
And isolation. Schools and colleges did close. Restaurants and bars were forcibly shuttered. Many other businesses voluntarily shut down. Which left many hanging out at home, trying to work but really spending a lot of time glued to the TV and social media and substantially freaking out.
In the midst of which, a colleague posted on Facebook: ‘March can officially just f*** off now.’ Which is how I discovered that Michael Broadbent had died.
Mr Broadbent, an eminence grise of the British wine trade, was 92, so I should hardly have been surprised. But he was also one of my favorite writers, on wine or any other subject. His passion for his subject, his dry sardonic British wit, his whimsical descriptions of ‘a smashing roast chicken and a half bottle of Pol Roger for lunch with Daphne’-these were my primary reasons for reading his Decanter column for a couple decades. He was also the author of my all time favorite wine tasting note: DNPIM, for ‘do not put in mouth’. Every wine professional has had that wine…you bring the glass to your nose, sniff, nope, not happening. Just before his retirement, Mr Broadbent was asked about continuing to work at his advanced age, replying, ‘Yes…I am beginning to forget what others have yet to learn.’ Sigh.
I’m not sure what else March has in store for us. As of this moment, the store is still open. Will we be open tomorrow? Who knows? Our intention is to be here as long as we can. And if I’m not at the store, I’m probably home with a glass of wine and a dog or two, reading old Decanter columns and hoping for April.