Fountain Pens and Colonial Williamsburg
When I was just a wee lad, my dad took me to Colonial Williamsburg one summer while my mom was attending a West Virginia teachers conference in Charleston. I remember making my dad listen to Kris Kross for a portion of that drive. Wow.
Aside from it being more humid than a Sumo wrestler's armpits and also uncomfortably hot, I took away from that adventure something I've just never been able to shake; a love of interesting pens, and zero love for grilled squirrel.
The Thing At The Place
I was exhausted and whiny from walking around in the Virginia summer heat all day. Air conditioning at home had spoiled me. This living history was simply uncomfortable and aggravating...until I saw IT. That big feather dipped in ink. I'd never seen anything like it. I shoved a booger-eating kid out of the way to get to it. The paper was brown, thick, and mottled. The grainy texture was like nothing I'd ever felt from paper before. It looked just like the paper upon which the Declaration of Independence was written. The ink bottle was elegant; a miniature obsidian obelisk. An ink-filled jewel.
A helpful lady dressed in correct-time-period garb reached into a burlap sack and pulled out a brand new quill pen just for me. She handed it to me and showed me how to load the black ink from the bottle. I dipped that sucker in there with gumption and a few drops hit the paper. There was a rough and grainy feedback from the quill as I slowly signed my name (as best I could at that age). I never forgot it. I felt like Thomas Jefferson.
Over the years, my dad would bring home new and interesting pens and pencils from his work for me to try out...everything from felt-tipped artist pens to high-end drafting pencils. There was always something lacking from these... you know, that feeling.
Through high school and college I would use the cheapo (but reliable) BIC mechanical pencils (.07mm) and pens. I didn't know any better and couldn't care less if I lost one. I hated using pencils. They always left the side of my palm completely smeared with graphite poop. My jeans had permanent marks where I would rub my palm across my leg to get rid of that stupid smudge.
Years later, I got the itch to buy a fountain pen. I missed that analog comfort. Being left-handed, I always find myself pushing my pen across the page...and I was looking for something that felt better than the crappy ballpoint pens I'd been using.
I obsessively started researching fountain pens and decided that my first purchase would be a Lamy AL-STAR with Noodler's Bernanke Black ink. That particular ink has rapid drying properties to prevent smears for my southpawness. Through my research, I stumbled upon some excellent sources:
You just never know what hobbies and passions spring up as you're out living life. Sometimes we need to reach to the past to make gains in the future. Nobody that day could have guessed that a quill feather and a dab of ink would spark a lifelong curiosity in a kid from West Virginia.
"Honey, the squirrel tastes just like chicken!" - Waitress
What's your daily routine for focus? Do you slow down with a particular hobby? Do you enjoy fountain pens and inks? Let me know!
...and as always, thanks for reading.