When I started writing a blog, I thought it would replace the long e mails and letters I had been writing to friends whose collective age and experience spans seven decades and whose homes are spread around five continents. My thinking, originally, was that One Blog would Fit All which was, of course, wishful thinking and as it turns out, a Fool’s Errand. Sad political liberals and jubilant conservative friends simply do not find the same musings amusing. Former schoolmates, now elderly and concerned primarily with colonoscopies and high blood pressure, are generally not interested in visits to cold and windy North Atlantic islands. Young adventurers with tans, well-defined abs and a lot of self-interest could give a toss about refugees, Make A Wish, Lou Reed and Tom Petty. And serious and frivolous readers; artists and athletes; religious zealots and crazy ass tight rope walkers did not share a passion for essays on performance art in Kansas City or scaling a fish in Digby, Nova Scotia, in equal measure. So rather than charming most of my friends and families with the same stream of consciousness blogs, I discovered that instead many friends actually found my blogs annoying and that I still had to write individual friends and family members to explain what a performance artist (or a trout) was. Go figure.
Finally, a month or so ago when it hit me I’d actually have to live to be 154 if my tomorrows were to outnumber my yesterdays, I decided my time would be better spent blogging less and living my life more.
Which leads me to this past summer and an autumn that is only now slowly winding down in Southern California.
The summer kicked off with a lot of visits from good friends checking in to make sure cancer had not laid me too low. A number of trips with other friends were organized to help me celebrate surviving and thriving and Fogo Island in all its sparse glory was first on my Live Your Life tour. Ally S organized our leg of the journey to the tiny rock, beloved by Flat Earth Society members everywhere, off the coast of Newfoundland. We were joined there by J and three teenagers, all of whom were also fascinated by the dozens of icebergs floating in the front yards of Fogo Island fishermen and celebrities paying $2000 a night for rooms with a view at the Fogo Island Inn.
Then there was the national Canada 150 Birthday Celebration with Tall Ships and schooners floating past our own deck in Victoria Beach. That was pretty spectacular. More American friends arrived to watch the ships drift by and stayed to take my temperature and check the air in my tires and then, in the wink of an eye, it was time to fly to Paris for the Colloquium for Political Innovation to honor the late, great Edgard Pisani. Although most if not all attendees were in France to draw attention to the kind of visionary leadership Pisani represented, many speakers and audience members between the ages of 18 – 80, passionately concerned about climate change, joined political progressives from a half-dozen countries at the National Assembly in Paris for a call to action. Pretty heady stuff.
From there V, M and I drove to the South of France for a week of gluttony and en route, stopped for a night of especially decadent feasting at Chateau de Vault de Lugny, a glorious old chateau with a moat, white swans, wonderful wines from Burgundy, and more history than I could absorb in one wine-addled lifetime. Although the generous meals in Paris and at Chez Josette’s in Cornillon were Events of the first order, the 17th Century kitchen in the chateau near Pontaubert was in a weight class all its own. If all diners did not have an out-of-body experience the night I died and went to Heaven, their taste buds must have been removed at birth.
In a futile effort to dry out and cure my addiction to French cuisine, I returned to Paris two days early to fast and indulge in nonstop reading at a trendy and slightly socialist hotel called Citizen M and then traveled straight from the sublime to the ridiculous and ridiculously relaxing beaches of Laie.
My friend and travel coordinator, H, can no longer tolerate long, uncomfortable flights and remain healthy but as luck would have it, she can manage to fly First Class without keeling over. Reaping the benefits of her compromise with her doctors, I enjoyed every nano-second of the large, bed-like arm chairs, the good champagne, the unusual (for me) airline cuisine, and five hours of good music and recent movies. Again, the sublime was followed by slightly ridiculous e mail warnings from my calabash relatives in Hawaii who reminded me that our wonderful old Laie beach shack had not enjoyed any serious upgrades since I’d last been there. Actually, it had not enjoyed any significant upgrades for the greater part of a century but that’s another Tale of the South Seas. Their e mail describing a missing roof, leaky sink, damaged window frames, and a cat with fleas, all available to double our pleasure, double our fun during our ten days on the North Shore of Oahu, was taken less seriously than it might have been had we not had quite so much Proseco and chicken with Bernaise sauce courtesy the fine folks at Hawaiian Airlines.
Undaunted, and knowing full well that beauty has the power to stop time, we stepped right back into the footprints we’d left during our last beachwalk on the long, white sandy beach one step beyond the backyard of the old Laie beach house. When half a house still has a roof, when the bookcases in that half overflow with hundreds of books on subjects of great interest, when the closets are filled with beautiful puzzles and the Pacific swimming hole is warm and inviting, it’s hard to pay too much attention to leaky sinks and flies or fleas in the ointment. Certainly no frequent visitor to Laie would ever pay ANY attention to fleas and soggy sub floors when the enormous winter waves that regularly hit the North Shore beaches are so beautiful, so dramatic and so attractive to the world class surfers. With the predictability of swallows returning to Capistrano, these tanned men and women who walk on water are sighted each year doing just that a few beaches down from Laie Bay. This, too, is pretty heady stuff.
I am now back in Southern California where the weather is wonderful about ten months out of twelve. I plan to linger for a few more weeks to visit the dearest of friends and relatives before I head back to Nova Scotia for the winter and I am determined to enjoy every nano-second before I return happily to a Maritime Brigadoon waiting for its first snowfall. I suspect it may be easier to blog in the cozy house on the cliff when one is snowed in than it is in a French chateau with a fabulous chef or even in a Laie beach shack when every warm Pacific breeze whispers “This IS the life! Enjoy it NOW and write about it February. Or maybe not at all.”
If I do continue blogging, I may, in the future, issue warnings that say “not suitable for crazy ass risk takers or readers addicted to Proust OR Dave Barry”. Be forewarned.