Essex 11-20-2010

The news from town this week is that long-serving Town Justice Mark Kupperman has resigned his position. His replacement is unknown at the moment, but the matter should be resolved next week.

This is my last day in Austin for this trip, and I've spent my time enjoying some of the lesser-known things about this town. Though the city is rightly famous for all of its music and clubs, of which there are dozens and dozens, the problem is these places don't get going until long after I've retired for the evening. However, Austin is blessed with a number of beautiful public swimming areas. My favorite is a long natural spring-fed pool with a limestone bottom surrounded by lawns and mature oaks, where the water is 72 degrees all year round. There are serious lap swimmers, lots of sun worshippers, children playing, and a more than a few refugees from the north who lounge under the overhanging trees congratulating themselves on their good sense to be here rather than shivering at home. There is even a separate section where dogs and their owners can swim together.

Speaking of which, this place is dog crazy. There are off-leash dog parks all over town and in the surrounding hills. My daughter and I take her sweet mutt Brewster to a large park on the river in the center of the city, where he cavorts and swims with his peers, and I chat up the owners. Nearly every one I encounter is friendly and talkative. I've met veterans just home from Afghanistan, British expatriots, penthouse-dwelling style mavens, and lots of tourists like me who enjoy hanging out.

Not all of Austin's less famous features are worthwhile. A breakfast favorite here is deep-fried chicken served over a waffle, with maple syrup and butter. I was hoping there would be a harmonic flowering of flavors, but it was merely two separate tastes that had no relation to one another. Although not regarded as standard breakfast fare, the Vietnamese-style tacos with strong coffee we had the other morning were delghtful, not too filling, and dirt cheap.

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