Monday, June 16, 2014

Touch Wood

I forget which Hemingway story it is - a protagonist is looking back on his life and remembers when his younger self and his young wife from a marriage that didn't last are commenting on how lucky they are. The protagonist in the present looks back on this scene and rues that they didn't think to touch wood.

Anyone remember which story this is?

I would have titled this post "Lucky".

That's the word that Alisa and I were saying over and over to each other and the boys the first two days we were here.

How lucky we are to be at Tahanea for the third time.

When we left Tahanea the first time we had just celebrated our one year anniversary of leaving Kodiak. We had finally come to terms with our new life of living on a traveling sailboat with a toddler and Tahanea felt like the six-figure payoff. As we sailed along the windward side of the atoll before turning west for Tahiti we had every expectation that we would never see the place again.

We didn't know anything about the second child who would come along to our family, or our decision to buy a second liveaboard boat in California, and the resulting chance to see Tahanea again.

On our second visit to the place we met our wonderful friends on Pacific Bliss, those marvelous travelers who enliven every scene they encounter. They sought us because they had heard we had kids on board and wanted to get together a quorum for Zinnia's ninth birthday party on the beach. A few days later we had Elias' fifth birthday celebration at the same beach with the addition of the Aussie/Danish kids from Gruffalo. I remember waking that morning with a migraine and desperately wanting to get better to MC the kids' games. Alisa prepared to go ashore without me. But I rallied. That night the three boats built a vast bonfire and baked Danish bread wrapped around sticks propped over the coals.

We chose our anchorage on this third visit because we thought we were at the birthday spot. We turned out to be off by one motu, but we found the spot by dinghy yesterday.

Visits to the beach figure large in our days. We had our first bonfire yesterday, with Kiwi marshmallows for roasting. Elias has been allowed his first pocketknife and is learning to whittle. He wants to catch enough of the little amphibious crabs that inhabit the limestone shoreline of the windward sides of the motus to make a meal. We saw the green flash of the setting sun from the beach, across the lagoon from us and to the left of our anchored boat. The sun playing a dumbshow of armageddon as it sank through the high tropical clouds and stretched down to the horizon. There is nothing mysterious or elusive about the green flash as some people maintain. If you have a clear view of the horizon at sunset in the tropics you will see it.


  1. The first time Windy and I saw the green flash, it was off the coast of Southern California, Dec 7, 1997. We have never seen it since. Michael

    1. whaaaat? get tropical with yourselves, man!

  2. Maybe "A Moveable Feast?"

    1. mebbe - btw, I think the Hem estate is putting out a bowdlerized version of that book...