The Bear Necessities

Whether Peter Greenaway’s violent unknown event had any bearing on what we in the skate world now know as ‘The Creative Hiatus‘ – or The C.H. – is difficult to say. What we do know is that up until The C.H. occurred I masqueraded as a pro skateboarder representing skate footwear brand éS (generally believed to be pronounced “ess” as in chess or less or mess). I had no idea that such a thing as The Creative Hiatus could even exist although in retrospect it seems perfectly logical. A few months prior to The C.H. the team was led on an expedition to catalogue both the riding of skateboards AND the wearing of skate-inspired footwear and apparel. In a future post I hope to give some consideration to the causes of The C.H. – the exorbitant development costs of the éS Ecosse? The ManWolfs collaboration? The publication of the story hereunder? – but for now what follows is a short egg tale told from the p.o.v. of a naive/idealistic young team member. We had been billeted in a ranch house in Austin, Texas, for a few days:

We walked side by side until the trail narrowed between the mulberry bush and the oak tree where Scuba took the lead. He skipped slightly as he strode ahead, the dance-like movement revealed an agility which Scuba, for whatever reason kept hidden on most occasions. A dainty flourish in his normally careful plod. This morning we were collecting eggs from the chicken coop and Scuba Steve was excited. I had been fumbling with the coffee grinder in the kitchen when he appeared from behind an array of skate shoes. “Wanna go collect fresh eggs?” he had asked brightly. A great beaming grin and wide eyes full of enthusiasm like he was Huck Finn asking Tom Sawyer if he wanted to build a raft out of whiskey barrels and go sail it down the Mississippi. There was no way I could refuse.

As we walked through the mist I watched Scuba deftly navigate the terrain. In the flat morning light his thick beard reminded me that we are as part of the animal kingdom as any other creature. To believe otherwise seemed ludicrous.

At that moment Scuba reminded me of Baloo the bear from the Jungle book. He was leading me on a small mission of fun and adventure to track down the bare necessities of life. We were two bears on a morning forage for sustenance. I let the thought run a little, if Scuba is a bear then for the most part he’s a life sized Teddy bear. Loving, friendly, sensitive. Yet at the same time there exists within this man the latent capacity to destroy. The angry Grizzly bear within might at any moment, given the right circumstances, be unleashed. I wondered what those circumstances might be as I glanced down at his thick, powerful fingers and burly forearms so accustomed to manipulating a heavy camera. I shuddered and decided right there and then that I’d rather not find out.

Luckily at that point we reached the chicken shed.

As soon as I saw them I realized that it would be insulting to mother nature to refer to these majestic creatures as mere chickens. Chicken is a euphemism that comes covered in batter, fried, in a bucket with some ranch sauce. This was no chicken shed. These fine specimens were hens. Clucking, pecking, preening speckled hens. And this, my friends, was a hen house.

We were in Austin Texas on an éS team/catalogue photo shoot/skate trip and it was the first time in my life I had collected eggs fresh from the source. Steve explained that it’s important that we thoroughly wash our hands, as Salmonella may be present on the shells. Apparently this is because the eggs exit the hen’s body via the rear tunnel, which seemed an unfair plumbing error. Also for some reason this whole hygiene issue struck a resonant chord in my mind with the climax of war of the worlds (H.G. Wells, 1898).

“Life is a complex web.” Steve whispered with deference as we gathered our ovoid bounty. We cautiously retraced our steps and when we got back to the kitchen Steve prepared a delicious scramble for everyone. After that it was time to go cheerily foraging for skate spots.
Originally printed – for better or for worse – in specialist publication The Skateboard Mag.

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