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You may recall from an earlier essay that they’ve ruined the shovel and Mateus “transitioned.” I have some follow-up insights to share.

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We posted a rant a couple of months ago about perfectly good products that have been ruined. I’m here to report some good news– I’ve found a shovel that is actually built to last, as well as the perfect pink fizz for sipping one’s way through an early summer swelter.

Can you dig it?” YES! (Wouldn’t you rather see a video of Isaac Hayes than a shovel?) After an extensive online search, I found the shovel of my dreams. (Photo & Particulars Here.) A small company in Ohio-- known as A.M. Leonard’s Gardener’sEdge--

--sells serious, well-made gardening and landscaping tools & supplies. Their shovels range from standard-issue (i.e., as flimsy as the ones I had previously ranted about) to my new one, a masterpiece of manufacturing– a heavy-duty, FORGED (in Mexico) 12-gauge steel blade, double-riveted to a four-foot ash handle that feels like it was grown and cut to last for generations.

Remember the lawyer in the first JURASSIC PARK movie? ("Are they heavy? Yes. Then they're expensive! Put'em back!" Second-best* line in the movie.) Folks, this shovel is HEAVY… maybe 50% heavier than what one would expect from a shovel this size. Ash is ash, so the weight is in the indestructible blade. It is as heavy as it needs to be for eternal durability, so I’ll take the extra exercise. And like that lawyer said right before he was eaten by the T. Rex, heavy means expensive… and this shovel is expensive, listing for $59.72. But I got a discount for placing my first order, and they shipped it for free AND it comes with a lifetime warranty. For $50 total I feel like not only did I get a fair deal, but also– more importantly– I got exactly what I was looking for.

I can definitely dig that.


(<== Best Heat Wave Song EVER! Great pairing w/ “The Summer of ‘42,” even greater pairing with the perfect Heat Wave Wine.)

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Even wine mavens like me find it hard to enjoy complex and well-crafted wine when the mercury climbs into the high 80’s. As posited in the afore-referenced rant, “...when the season’s first muggy swelter has us enervated and damp-shirted beneath a merciless June sun, serious wine— red OR white— is impossible to enjoy, and so we gleefully pass the ice-cold pink stuff around the patio and gulp it like lemonade.” And the “pink stuff” to which I referred was Mateus Rosé– not the “new, improved” version, but the original that was once the biggest-selling wine in the world until they completely ruined it inside and out.

Well, I haven’t succeeded in finding anything close to an exact replacement for the original Mateus, but I do have what I consider a great alternative suggestion… something drier and fizzier, but every bit the bargain and just as delicious–

The Spaniards long ago mastered the art & science of mass-producing inexpensive methode champenoise bubbly… “Cava,” they call it. Winemaking giant JAUME SERRA CRISTALINO pumps out 20 million bottles a year of various products, including this pink brut rosé that should only set you back about $9 per bottle. It is all too often the case that the nicest thing you can say about a Cava is that there is nothing wrong with it. (Remember your first and last experience with that horrible crap in the black bottle you accidentally bought? That Spanish bubbly that was as hard to swallow as it was to pronounce?)

But this JAUME SERRA CRISTALINO BRUT ROSÉ performs beautifully, way above its weight class– it is dry, but not sharply acidic; just fruity enough to match its lovely coral hue; and isn’t so complex and expensive that you fear muting its wonderfulness by serving it ice-cold. Served just north of the freezing point, it is delightfully refreshing, enough to enjoy in long, thirsty gulps while lounging pool-side or beneath a patio umbrella. Hell– for a perfect cross-cultural misappropriation, how about sipping it with barbecue? It works with everything else– from pasta salad to sushi– so why not?

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*In this author’s judgment, the BEST line in the original JURASSIC PARK was delivered by the black-clad, madcap chaos theorist Dr. Ian Malcom–

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