Monday, December 13, 2010

Season's Greetings from Jan and Alan

Oscar Wilde said it best, “Work is the curse of the drinking class”. It is long ago – sometime in the last century – that your Christmas correspondents earned daily bread by honest toil. As another year fades into memory we continue to dedicate ourselves to getting it while it’s hot, apprehensive that at any moment it might get cold for a long, long time. While we’re at it, we work at taking nothing for granted and try not to forget the importance of counting our abundant blessings.

We are back at the winter base camp in Victoria, keeping ourselves off the streets with a variety of diversions and distractions. Jan quilts, bludgeons mere mortals at bridge, learns a new guitar piece now and then. Alan takes pictures, spends inordinate hours on Great War research, reads books about Shackleton and Scott and wonders what it feels like to be a titan among mere mortals. Together we hike local hills with stalwart companions Mike and Mary, breathe outdoor air at every opportunity, make a point of occasionally learning something new. Simple pleasures endure: cribbage at breakfast by the dining room window, watching juncos, towhees and bushtits reaping the chickscratch we’ve scattered in the yard.

We enjoyed a balmy summer at the summer base camp in Cape Breton. Downeast we rely on Cousins Lynn and Louise to lead us into corners of Cape Breton seldom tramped by anyone else. We lure the birds at Big Bras d’Or too, enjoy their antics at the feeders and keep track of everything that flies within binocular range of our shack at the edge of the Great Bras d’Or.

In September Lynn and Louise joined us for an 18-day trip to Ireland. We walked 150 km of the postcard-perfect Dingle Peninsula, got nose-to-beak with fulmars at the Cliffs of Moher, tramped rocky Burren national park, looked for ghosts at the Boyne battlefield and the principal places of the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin. Irish cooking – especially the seafood – was vastly better than we ever anticipated. Best of all, avowed beer-haters Lynn & Louise learned that Irish Guinness draught is a beer in a class all its own.

We traveled to Oregon twice – in spring and fall – seeking out wild hot springs, migrating waterbirds, mountain quiet. At Portland – in the opening game of the new NBA basketball season – we saw the great Steve Nash in the flesh. His team lost.

But losses have been few. Alan’s mom rebounded from a bad sacrum fracture in the summer and is doing wonderfully well at her new place in Truro. Jan’s dad is flourishing in his beloved garden and back yard at nearby Cadboro Bay. Life continues to treat us well. We wish it so for all our friends and loved ones too.

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