Thursday, April 1, 2010
Our friend Louise is officially a citizen of Canada! She's coming home as we speak (she and her husband are on assignment in Florida), having passed whatever test it is they give, and presumably produced a rendering of "O Canada" sufficient to permit the issuing of citizenship papers. They made you sing, right, Louise? In recent years we've had several friends who became American citizens, having come to the U.S. from Switzerland, Costa Rica, Syria and India, and now are very proud to welcome Louise to our continent, if not our country, exactly.
Our unlikely connection to Louise and Tyrone is rooted in work but has flowered in a surprising way. Tyrone seemed like a person I'd want as a friend because he shamelessly wore grey Chuck Taylors to the office. Louise eclipsed him, of course, immediately. Together, they are The North American Right Whale Spotters of 2010, for my money, having sighted multiple whales several times off the beach. They were able to report the sightings, helping support the re-establishment of this extremely endangered species, of which perhaps only 350 or 400 individuals inhabit the earth. They are dog people who understand the language of dogs, and are loved by every dog they meet. In the unusual magic that connects people to each other in St. Augustine, they happened to choose our dear friend Eric at Antigua Vets to care for their dog. And they are intrepid, warm-hearted people who can be tossed into virtually any social situation and find their way to a comfortable place. Good job, Canada.
There are the people with whom you cautiously build friendships, and there are people you pass at the beach with whom you exchange greetings, and then there are people who pass silently and yet not without contact. Thanks to our frequent visits to Guana, those people in the second category are more numerous than you might think; two Saturdays ago I walked up to The Woman in the Black Bathing Suit on the beach. I hadn't seen her during the winter. I said, "Is it Kathy and Brian?" and she said, "How did you ever remember??" and we caught up with each other. She took out her phone and made a note about our names and the blog address. I hope she'll find us here. (Brian was with her, but he was busily searching for shark teeth, so I didn't interrupt him. The beach is sacred that way.) I may have mentioned the woman we used to see last summer, who asked me, "Do you always leave your shoes at the walkover?" When I answered that I did, she smiled and said, "I can always tell when you're here by your shoes," and we laughed about it. I haven't thought about it in some time. But yesterday was a truly amazing day for marine fauna. There was that big old conch or whelk or whatever it calls itself, which I'd carefully removed from the water for a photo and to show Rodney and then just as carefully replaced. There was the sand dollar.
And there were two couples walking on the beach, taking photos, probably tourists. They took notice of me in their own ways, the older couple perhaps wondering if they could get me to take a photo of them together, the younger couple just sitting in the sand in their good clothes, letting the sun warm them. None of them spoke, but all four of them made eye contact. All of them were interested, as I was, in the abundant wonders of nature, but none of them dared a conversation so Rodney and I walked on up the beach a mile or so and then back. But when I bent over to pick up my old Chuck Taylors, there was the conversation I thought no one had dared.
There were my shoes, but into the heel of one of them had been tucked a gift. It couldn't have been accidental. By design, someone said very clearly, "I thought you might like this," and I thought they must have seen me carrying the whelk/conch shell. The one left in my shoe hadn't had a resident for a long time, could be taken home without the guilty scent of life, interrupted, and was perfectly formed. The people I passed without comment that day didn't step into our lives quite like Tyrone and Louise did, but they didn't pass without a conversation, either. What a world we live in.