Finally, it’s a sunny, spring-like day, bringing all the sweet promises of warm, gentle breezes, children laughing and playing, and, in due course, summer. Cardinals are hollering to their buddies, dump ducks overhead screaming at everything in general and nothing in particular, cat lounging in the morning sun, septic pump truck outside on fast idle.
The truck’s vacuum pump alerts the neighborhood that we old folks are still capable of processing most of a really good BIGS pizza. While the product of our heroic gastronomic efforts rides off to the Great Waste Treatment Plant in the next town, we will rejoice in the knowledge that life can be pretty sweet here on the rock, even if it isn’t exactly sweet-smelling right now. In a couple of weeks or less, lilacs will sweeten the salt air for a brief time, which, next to bacon sizzling in cast iron, is my favorite olfactory experience.
My thoughts turn to the annual debate with myself on the subject of planting tomatoes. It is fascinating to watch little green weeds mature into large green weeds with only a couple hundred dollars’ worth of organic cow dung; some free-range, organic, GMO-free, gluten-free, vegan-ready bags of dirt; some fresh, nonchlorinated, fluoride-free island water; and countless hours of stooped tending and coaxing. Most years it’s way too much effort for too little fruit to make the effort worthwhile. Anyway, my father would spend eternity in shameful embarrassment if he were to know his son actually paid money for bags of dirt, even organic dirt. This year there is no debate and I’ll find my tomatoes at the Veggie Corner, thank you. For the few tomatoes I might want with which to grace a grilled burger, it makes little sense to me to go through the effort to produce spindly little bushes that, more often than not, offer me no reward. I give up.
Along with the first tourists hitting the town in late April, there were a couple dozen relatives, friends and bandmates here for a family celebration. The Log Cabin Inn hosted some newcomers and did their usual terrific job making sure everyone was well fed and cared for. The freshly spruced-up Sea Escape Cottages filled up and even provided a nice bonfire for their guests. The next morning, we provided a deck for coffee and chatting with the crew before they drove home. One of my conversations went something like this:
Guest: “Do you know what that helicopter was doing at 4 a.m.?”
Me: “What helicopter?”
Guest: “The one that went slowly out the bay at 4 this morning. It must have been out there for 20 minutes.”
Me: “Are you talking about the fishing boat that steamed out at about that time?”
Guest: “Oh, really? That was a loud boat.”
Me: “Yes, it sure is. I asked him to try to make his runs at that time so to wake me for my 4 a.m. visit to the bathroom. By the time I get back to bed, he’s nearing Halfway Rock, it’s peacefully quiet again and I go right back to sleep. The guy’s very helpful and a pretty fair fisherman to boot.”
Guest: “Does that happen every night?”
Me: “No, but we have lots of sheets.”
I almost love tourist season; the pickin’s are so easy.
Butch Lawson is an observer of life. He lives on Bailey Island.