Of machetes, sailing and birthday celebrations…

August 10, 2010 in Travelogue


On the deck

Five months ago Elisha stood, eye to eye, with a wizened little Quiche man in the highlands of Guatemala, negotiating his nine year old best for a machete.  He’d been on the hunt for one for weeks.  We’d looked at several.  This was the first one he bid on.  He drove a hard bargain, and paid a fair price.  His only comment (other than carrying it on his person whenever possible, which is commentary in and of itself) was that Grampsy would be proud and would help him sharpen it.  He’s carried that knife, as long as his arm, from one end of the continent to the other with a “less is more” information approach at four international borders to place it carefully in Grampsy’s hand when we arrived on the island.  After a quick boat ride (always first on everyone’s list) he and Gramps spent a long morning discussing the making and use of machetes, how to gauge a quality steel by the ‘ring’ and methods of sharpening.



at the grinder

I was laying on the sunroom floor, almost asleep when I heard the whirr of the stone grinder coming to life.  When I was a child my Dad had an old foot pedal grinder that my Grandpa had made with a stone about two feet in diameter that he rode like a horse while sharpening his implements.  He’s traded that in for an electric grinder somewhere along the way.  I heard my Dad quietly discussing the finer points with the boy before the tentative sounds of metal on stone drifted in on the afternoon breeze.  Dad was whistling.  The boy was completely engrossed.  There was a skip in the steady hum of metal grinding, and a calmly amused comment from Gramps, “Try not to grind your fingers, boy!”  Elisha is not quick, but he’s focused and after a period of time he produced a fair edge on his steel, properly rounded and even from hilt to point.  Not bad for ten year’s old.



a present

We’ve been here five days now and I’m still eating the last of the raspberry pies my mother made for my birthday.  Somewhere around twelve I decided I preferred pie to birthday cake and I’ve never looked back.  Add to that three kid birthdays in July and the LAST thing I want the first week of August is cake!  We celebrated quietly, as is our style.  My mother gave me a pewter orca necklace inlaid with paua shell and my Dad gave me two books on the cruising life.  He’s hoping hard that a boat features prominently in the next incarnation of our life.


And so begins my first week of thirty-six, with pie and white wine, a steady parade of friends and loved ones, books to inspire my wanderlust (as if this needed encouragement!) long quiet days while the children sail their hearts out in Barrett Bay with their island friends, and a day completely to myself.  I hope this auspicious beginning is an omen for the coming year, that it may be filled with as much peace, love and happiness as it can hold.  A girl can hope!