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Cool by Association

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On the other side of my fence, my neighbors have a pretty sweet life. They are the kind of cool people that go to the hippest bistro in town, not because it’s their wedding anniversary and they have been looking forward to such a divine dinner for months, but because it’s Thursday. And they know the chef. Their kids all speak French. Because they travel to their favorite town in Provence several times a year. These people are certifiably cool.

Take the wife, for example: she dresses better for gardening in her back yard than I do for a hot date. And she’s a gourmet cook. Who actually cooks.

Now dear reader, please don’t think that I’m one of those people who loves being close to someone cool so that I can be cool by association. It’s not like if my neighbor were the cool girl in the schoolyard I would be in her posse, walking two feet behind her and communally sneering at all the kids she decided were beneath her. She’s just one of those people that’s cornered the market on cool. (Sometimes I’ll be garage saling with Liz, my partner in all things awesome, and we’ll happen on a “cool sale.” “Cool sales” are those sales where everything for sale is cooler than everything you have in your own home. These sales prompt two questions. 1. What are you not selling that’s cooler than all this? and 2. Can I just buy your life?)

But back to my cool neighbors. They are effortlessly, can’t-help-it cool.*

Because they love all things France, they planted grapevines as an homage to their second home in Provence. The grapevines climb up the fence and make a quaint and faintly exotic backdrop for their cool backyard.

Now maybe this is a lame attempt to capture their cool, but the other day I snipped the grapevine branches that had clamored over to our side of the fence. Some of the leaves had started to turn a sunny yellow, dying their beautiful, autumnal death. I coveted these branches for their laid-back form and accidental elegance.

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For the last few seasons, decorating magazines have shown tall branches plunked in clear, narrow-necked vases. The look is modern, thanks to the lucidity of clear water in a clear vase base. But the long graceful branches lend a rustic style that warms up the whole room. I wanted this look. And I didn’t want to wait until narrow-necked vases hit the garage sale circuit in, oh say, six years. So I found a gallon-sized apple cider jug and that will do just fine. The glass jug is just my look and the price tag fits my uncool budget. Beautiful grapevines stolen from the cool neighbors in a humble cider jug is as cool as I’m ever going to get.

* And the worst part: I like them. Sigh. They’re the best neighbors I could ever ask for.