During our telephone interview, Jillian Traver is negotiating a narrow English country lane in her compact Vauxhall Tigra while chirping away about music festivals in Latvia and the rich craft of winemaking. She’s picking up her fiancé, fresh off work in London proper, at the train station and they’re driving to their very first home in a village outside the city. He hops in the car and greets me in British English that seems to have rubbed off on Traver.
Where Are They Now?
It’s 2009, and Vijay Viswanathan is fly-fishing on a remote river in Alaska’s Togiak National Wildlife Refuge.
This is grizzly country, where glacial peaks give way to an endless sea of green scrub valleys, through which weave streams where virgin trout that have never known the taste of a steel hook die of old age. Viswanathan embarked with a small team of professional athletes and biologists carrying all they needed to live and fish for a week. “Trips like that give me the same feeling I get when skiing through fresh powder,” he said. “These are memories that will stay with me forever.”
Where does your water come from? Not long ago, a vast freshwater aquifer stretching from South Carolina’s coast through Georgia and Florida supplied the wells that quenched the Lowcountry. But aquifers can be depleted by overuse, and many wells have become compromised as salt water has seeped in where fresh water used to be. Now much of the Lowcountry’s water is sourced from the Savannah River. Thankfully, Hilton Head Island boasts a budget large enough to afford supplemental water sources, and the means to purify them.
I caught up with Paul Vecchione straight off an Ironman finish in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, a town whose name seems to say, “This isn’t Boise.”
Idaho may remind you of a giant potato, but this town, nestled upon an alpine lake near Spokane, is far from middle America. And as he tells me about the race in his downtown Manhattan apartment, Vecchione, whom I’ve known since high school — though not well — keeps impressing me.
When Hurricane Matthew hit the Lowcountry, Rose Hill resident Amy Harper kept in touch with her neighbors — both those who had stayed behind to weather the storm and those who were scattered across the country — by using an app on her iPhone called Nextdoor.
“At first, we communicated about which stores were open,” said Harper, who has lived in the Lowcountry for almost 30 years, 10 of them in Rose Hill. “Then the conversations turned to lost pets, water pressure issues, who had power and who did not. We’re now talking about roofing contractors and the best place to get hurricane shutters.”
Ancient lore and modern research suggest early Polynesians migrated to North America following the seasonal flight patterns of the Golden Plover. One generation would row their boats as far as they could keep up with the birds. Then they noted their location and came home. The next year, they would row out to last year’s endpoint, waiting this time with a head start. Over hundreds of years and many generations, through birds and stars, the Polynesians found Hawaii.
For a brief window of time on the B train, clanging over the Manhattan Bridge from Brooklyn, you emerge from underground.
If you’re lucky, the sun is hanging mellow, setting slowly in high summer, casting distant transformers in a copper tone, its light bouncing off the skyscraper windows and following you. I climb the stairs of the Grand Street station onto Chinatown’s northern edge, its assortment of fermented market offerings greeting my nose straight on.
“Dad! I want to play on the trampoline!” yells one of his four kids. “No, not this second” replies Brandon Runyan, and then turns to me: “This is the chaos of my life.” A toddler’s shriek pierces through my computer speakers. We’re on video chat and Isla, age 7, reminds us, “You’ve been on this interview for minutes!” She wants dad to continue their bike-riding lessons. Runyan, still in his scrubs, calmly answers each question, even if delayed by constant, if cute, interruptions. Most mornings, he sneaks out at 5 a.m. for CrossFit. That’s before the kids wake up and must be shepherded through the morning’s tasks.
I always called him Tripp. I remember mornings at South Carolina Yacht Club’s summer sailing camp, putting together the boxy Optimists before launching them into the water. The effort of the work was worth it with the release of your boat into the water, yours alone, its one sail getting fat in the wind. Our shared childhood started at Hilton Head Preparatory Academy, trading Legos in the sandbox in a tight-knit trio: me, Prentice “Tripp” Brower and John DeZeeuw. But while my dad always had to pull me back to the water, it was hard to peel Tripp away, his skin growing ever tanner. When I migrated to public school, Tripp stayed at Prep, where he started its first sailing team.
Jessie Peterson Tarazi’s studio is tucked into a basement in Manhattan’s Chinatown, down a set of pre-war iron steps, past two pet pigeons roosting in their cage. Not hers, she adds. We’ve arranged to meet in a brief window before she’s off sending Kiawah residents into Southern nostalgia. She’s agreed, gleefully, to their offer to be Artist-In-Residence and to give her first artist’s talk, that is—on her own work.