Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Noisy Mongrel Dance

The boys begin each day by coming back to our bed to cuddle. We lie in an alternate pattern - child adult child adult. Leaving the boys next to each other anywhere - at the table, in the dinghy, or in bed - starts a fight. Alisa and I lie still, nursing a few more minutes of sleep, while the grinning boys wriggle.

After they are up, Elias leads Eric in a dance in the saloon: "Let's do the noisy mongrel dance, let's do the noisy mongrel dance", says Elias, smiling in the joy of the moment, arms waving above his head. At some point of parental frustration in the past few days, when I was trying to express extreme disapproval without profanity, I must have called Elias a noisy mongrel, though I don't remember doing it. Sigh.

M-A flew into the airstrip at Melaleuca to join us over New Year's. It was an improbable rendezvous. We dropped the anchor in a place we'd never been, and half an hour later a tourist boat came zipping from around the corner and delivered our friend. M-A immersed herself in the nitty-gritty of family life among the Galactics for four days - Elias got mad at her, too - and reminded us, by her presence, of everything that we like about Hobart, and Tasmania, that we will soon be leaving behind.

New Year's Eve found us in a wind funnel of an anchorage, with sheets of rain sweeping between Galactic and the almost-looks-like-tundra buttongrass plains. We took the boys ashore to huddle out of the rain in a tea tree grove. We watched honeyeaters mobbing a shrike-thrush and picked leeches off each other. The next day all three adults woke without hangover, and we resolved to drink only decent champagne and Scotch whiskey for the whole of 2013.

Two other boats came into Port Davey in the same weather window that we used, and ever since the wind has been hard from the west, keeping all other yachts from the southeast of Tasmania away. We three boats separate and rejoin, spreading out to enjoy the peace of the little bays to ourselves, then coming together in a shared anchorage. Yesterday I hiked up Mt. Rugby with Wade and Chris from Take It Easy. It was the hottest day ever recorded in Hobart - 41.8°C, or about 107°F, and the hot wind blew hard enough to make it uncomfortable to sit on the summit block. We had vast views out across the plains and hills of southwestern Tasmania, the air gin-clear, John and De on Silver Air far below, bashing out against the westerlies in the channel.

Then, nearly at the bottom of the mountain, we looked up to see a huge plume of smoke above, as if some Soviet-era industrial district had suddenly appeared to windward. By the time we got back to the dinghies the scene was distopian, a view of the Mayan end of days come late. Blast furnace winds were smoking spray off the anchorage. Silver Air had returned, after being blown out of two anchorages to windward. And the cloud of smoke turned half the sky the same brown as the tannin-laden waters.

After dinner Alisa and I played cards in the cockpit while ash drifted down from above. At night the smoke had pulled away to show the stars, and the glow of flames lit up the northwest horizon.

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