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The Beat #5

Updated: Sep 23, 2020

Topics: Pool Floats, Bonsai, Natchez Trace Bridge, Japanese Snacks

Illustrations by Greg Chinn at The Local Brand Co.

Pool Floats

Rocket pops, unicorns, flamingoesoh my. Over recent summers, pool floats have become the surprise disruptor in the aquatic amusement industry (which I hope is a thing). From the exotic (light-up swans and angel wings) to the mundane (everything bagels, pretzels) to the odd (balloon animals, Starbucks drinks), there’s something for every swimmer. With Summer 2020 shaping up to be a challenge, these floats provide a little colorful joy.


This elegant, profoundly meditative practice dates back to the 6th century. This is an art that requires patience, humility and an eye for balance. With the ultimate goal to replicate fully grown trees in nature, bonsai practitioners use complex techniques to shape, prune and position trees artfully and soulfully. In my first year as a bonsai hobbyist, I’ve managed to kill five little trees, including a beloved juniper. It’s not for the impatient or faint of heart, but for those willing to pursue the craft, and for those who just like to admire the trees, it’s a thing of beauty.

The Natchez Trace Bridge

Just outside Nashville, Tenn., adouble arch bridge spans Birdsong Hollow, connecting two sections of the Natchez Trace Parkway — a 444-mile scenic route from Nashville to Natchez, Miss. The bridge opened in 1994, and won multiple design awards and gained famed for being the first segmentally constructed concrete arch bridge in the U.S. The 1,500-foot long, 145-foot tall bridge has acomplicated history. It rises from a lush valley like a sinuous sci-fi apparition. It’s somehow incongruous in the landscape and perfectly at home.

Japanese Snacks

Pocky, senbei, and bizarre Kit-Kat flavors. From traditional to faddish, Japanese snacksare a particular favorite of Greg and myself, and we both have memories of family excursions to 99 Ranch Market for Ramune, shrimp snacks and Hello Panda. Although you can find a host of Japanese treats online, even subscription services, we recommend visiting your local asian market and exploring a whole gorgeous, strange world of the fishy, the squishy and the unexpected. And I’m not even getting into the joys of daifuku and takoyaki. If you thought wasabi peas were exciting, wait till you have a cough drop flavored Kit Kat.


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