A Wake, a Birthday, a Revival
thumbnail My old friend Malcolm Elder died at the age of (almost) 93 in mid December 2008. On Mar 1 2009, which would have been his birthday (he was a leap year baby born on Feb 29) we held the wake. It was a good party; over 50 people attended, bringing a wide variety of tasty potluck food. Stories were told, songs were sung, old friends were reunited. I have never attended a wake before, let alone hosted one, but it all went rather well and people left smiling.

thumbnail March 3rd is my birthday. Traditionally I spend the day alone, taking a long hike or bike ride and meditating on the year past and the year to come; this year I wanted to share the day with Jon -- at least part of it -- while still keeping some continuity with tradition. In the morning, undaunted by weather, I rowed in steady cold rain to Midden Bay, beached the dink and set off, glad of my raingear, on a leisurely walk around the island.

thumbnail The boardwalk by Mallard Lake was slick and treacherous, yet so inviting. I should have taken more pictures of this long walk, but it was raining hard enough that I didn't want to take the camera out of its plastic baggie too often!

thumbnail Rain is falling into the still pools at the tail end of the lake; it's so dark under the trees that the exposure is long and blurry. Back at Midden Bay after about 4 hours of contended tramping about, I wait for Jon; he shows up as planned in his own dinghy bringing firewood and food; we hike to the cliff above a cave we particularly like, and scramble down to it with the aid of fixed ropes left by previous adventurers.

thumbnail My birthday feast: chicken charred over the flames is now baking in foil, and hot soymilk with cinnamon and vanilla simmers in the pot. We have sinful long-haul organic strawberries from California as well, and some excellent dark chocolate nougat. What more could one ask?

thumbnail Jon contemplates the fire. The cave is delightful -- a "tent" made from fallen boulders, with a natural chimney that channels smoke up and out high above. It has a fine view to the East, a floor just big enough for comfortable camping, and a natural spring slowly dripping clear fresh water at one corner. It's sheltered by trees, and directly below is a pleasant stony beach, landable in very small craft if you have local knowledge. We joke about making ochre hand prints and painting animals on the walls, and plan to return in summer for an overnight stay and a morning swim in hot weather.

thumbnail The best birthday present of all is good company. Jon's presence in my life is an undeserved and unanticipated gift.

thumbnail I had intended -- made a NY resolution in fact -- to get the new engine running by my birthday. I missed by 2 days; the engine started on the 5th, and on the 6th we took Taz out for a victory parade around the islands (Newcastle and Protection). She had not left the dock under her own power in 3.5 years. It was a big moment. Here Jon steers for a bit as I run forward to take a documentary picture -- proof that my beloved boat is moving again!