As I write this we're on our final countdown to leave Beaver Island, in the very westernmost Falklands. I don't have our log just by me so I'm not quite sure exactly how long we've been here - at least a week, anyway. This place has had that special magic of being timeless for us.
|Riding in the back of the Land Rover - only the beginning. |
For the boys in particular Beaver Island has been a complete joy. A highlight for them has been how hands-on the place has been. We've been to any number of places where you can't touch this or disturb that. But Beaver is part of that world where it is ok to kill what you eat, rather than paying someone else to pay someone else to do it for you. The boys, who have long lived on fantasies of farming and hunting, found the reality quite to their liking.
|Running alongside the Land Rover - even better if there is a...|
The tone for our visit was set when we arrived, and our host Leiv offered to go out and shoot a reindeer on our first full day on the island. No mucking around and waiting for the "perfect" time on Beaver.
|...dead reindeer ahead.|
Beaver is home to a herd of reindeer that Leiv's dad and brother plucked off South Georgia in Leiv's Dad's boat, the Golden Fleece
(Jérȏme Poncet is known as "Leiv's Dad" on board Galactic,
but he is something of a deal in the small world of adventurous sailors. The brother even has a Wikipedia page
- I checked. He and "Leiv's Mom", Sally, got up to a lot of very impressive adventures in the Southern Ocean, long before these contemporary days when everyone and their cousin is sailing around down south. Genuine Bill Tilman-type adventuring.)
The tone for the whole visit was set on that reindeer hunt. Leiv tried to get close to a herd of reindeer but they ran off. He then tried to salvage the day by interesting our boys in a visit to the nearby gentoo penguin colonies. You've never seen an offer of professed "fun" fall so flat with a pre-adolescent audience.
I could just see the thought balloons over Elias' and Eric's heads as they looked down at their toes, too polite to tell Leiv what they thought of his offer to go eco-touring. "Effing penguins?", they were thinking. "Whatever, farm boy. I thought you were gonna whack us a caribou."
Leiv referred to them later as "your bloodthirsty children". Shamed into doing the right thing, he snuck up on the reindeer again and shot one this time.
|Mutton chops on the grill.|
The boys, bless them, have been game for whatever harvesting opportunity has been on offer at Beaver, from reindeer liver to hearts of tussac grass to mushrooms to minnows trapped in the creek to upland geese for Christmas dinner.
Alisa, not to be left out, has been keeping the pressure cooker humming, filling our empty mason jars with mutton and reindeer for the long miles ahead.
|And minnows to grill and eat whole while we're waiting.|
|Elias watching Leiv butcher a sheep|
|Elias, following Leiv. Leiv has been the perfect host for our boys (and for us). |
Don't you love the way their two postures tell the tale of the journey from boy to man?
|Elias hunting (unsuccessfully) for our Christmas goose - they're on the hill in the background.|
|Bloodthirsty - boy and sea lion.|
|Alisa and Leiv cutting meat. The Falklands are quite the place for Alaskans who have been away from home too long. |
|Elias plucking one of the Christmas geese that Leiv shot.|
|Christmas geese. |
|Our reindeer antler Christmas tree.|
I'll write more about Beaver Island later, I'm sure. But now, in the moment before we leave and begin the journey back to Stanley, I wanted to just share these pictures and this brief account of how much fun the boys have had here.
We've been to a lot of places in the last eight and a half years. But I suspect that Beaver is going to be on the short list of those places that we can invoke with just a name.
Five years from now one of us will be able to say "Beaver Island", and the other three will light up at the memory.
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