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Paul Smith: Matt Brazil spotted in shorts

On Regatta Day, Robert Richards and I were nailing siding on my new garage under the sweltering midafternoon sun. For a pleasant change, there wasn’t a gale of wind. We had just finished off a couple of hamburgers that Goldie had barbecued for us. She nearly cooked herself in the process, with the mercury on our backyard deck tipping towards 40 C. Wow, that is hot for a town by the cold North Atlantic on the Avalon Peninsula. I think it might be some sort of record.

I looked over my shoulder while hammering and spotted in the distance two kayakers on Conception Bay. Their paddles dipped in unison and it made for a right pretty scene. The sun glistened on the salty sea and the blue boats blended in just grand with sky, rock, and water. I would have much rather been out on the water in my deep blue Dagger kayak, but hey, I had work to do. I think I mentioned last week, it’s nose to the grindstone and get this exterior clad over and done with. Then I can trout, paddle, and hike the rest of the summer away. The daydream ended when Robert poked me with the end of his tape, to hold for another measure. 

It's hot hammering nails in the blazing sun. — Goldie Smith
It's hot hammering nails in the blazing sun. — Goldie Smith

While Robert precisely cut the siding I took a half-minute to size up the kayaks again. Now they were heading right for us. Geez, those paddlers looked like my buddy Matt Brazil and his son Ian. The boats were the correct profile and colour. They drew close.

Sure enough it was them, cruising in close to have a look at our work I figured. But wait, the bigger guy, Matt I assumed, had short pants on. Matt Brazil never wears shorts. He’s old-school, shorts are for school boys. I figure he’d go flats fishing in Belize with long pants. Until now that is, sure enough, they were just a few feet off the shore and waving at us, white legs glistening in the brilliant sunshine.  Now this I know, it’s bloody hot in Spaniard’s Bay when Matty Brazil is spotted in shorts. It must definitely be a record.

I read this evening that this was one of the hottest Regatta Days in memory, and this past July was one of the hottest since we started keeping records. I do believe that we are in a period of climatic flux.

Our winters are getting more and more volatile. Polar bears are running out of frozen habitat, the polar ice caps are retreating, and storms are intensifying each and every year. And if that’s not bloody proof enough for naysayers, well then, now we have absolute proof positive. Matt went out and bought short pants. The planet is warming.

I’ll see if I can forget Matt’s snow-white legs and get serious. You know what? It’s amazing how much heat your body dissipates though your bare legs. I would not have been able to work today with long pants on, more especially trousers made of heavy work rated cotton. If I had been forced to work with jeans and a clingy cotton T-shirt I think I might have dropped down from total heat exhaustion. Rob and I were climbing up and down scaffolds and running about, table sawing, carrying stuff, and generally rushing around. My tropical fishing clothes got me though the day.

Over my coffee this morning I read the heat warning for Spaniard’s Bay on my Weather Network App. We’ve been getting a lot of those lately. It was going to be a hot one for manual labour and carpentry.

You don't see this often.
You don't see this often.

We’d be working on the west side of the building so the morning would be cool. The wind was forecast out of the southwest, providing some air conditioning, while the sun concentrated its energy on east facing souls and structures. But by noon we’d be bombarded from above, with the backs of our legs and necks getting the full fury from a cloudless sky by midafternoon. That’s when Matt appeared in shorts. I had sunscreen on, and if Matt didn’t his legs are surely boiled lobster red tonight.

Getting back to the fishing clothes business. I do a lot of tropical fly fishing. These days, companies like Simms and Patagonia make fantastic gear for anglers out all day in the blazing southern sun. I have these long sleeved super light weight crew styled shirts that are so breathable it feels like you have nothing on. Meanwhile, you are shielded from the sun by SPF-50 or so fabric. Likewise shorts and even long pants are fully breathable, and wick moisture away from your body. Soaked with sweat clothing makes you totally uncomfortable. It’s tough to either work or fish like that. Your clothing must breath and wick, both winter and summer.

So the moral of my story is, break out the technical travel and fishing clothes for yard work and construction projects. Why not? It’s the same technical problem and challenge. At least for summer, I’d ditch those heavy duck cloth work pants and shirts. Why not be comfortable?

Now if I could only find a pair of work boots in a store around here that aren’t lined with some sort of insulation to keep your feet warm. What’s up with that? We do have summer. My feet certainly weren’t cold today. Can anybody help me out with this one?

By the way, wear work boots while cutting grass.  

Paul Smith, a native of Spaniard’s Bay, fishes and wanders the outdoors at every opportunity. He can be contacted at  or follow him on twitter at @flyfishtherock

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