Halloween Aboard Ship (A Belated Post)

[This post was resurrected from my Outbox on Thanksgiving morning, a sunny one in Portland. Just now, sitting in our kitchen, I looked out and saw what Tom had done with the blue glass head who lives in the claw-footed bathtub on the porch.

image1 (2)That’s probably one reason it’s so hard to describe our house or his work to people who haven’t seen it. Home after that long journey, we look with new eyes, too. Tom and Mary, Hester and Len, did wonderful clearings-out, rearranging, so that spaces which were crowded and almost unusable are now new and roomy. What a gift that has been!]

We are in the midst of Halloween. Tom was hailed as a wizard by the young musician who was playing as we left the Crows’ Nest to go to dinner. And with good reason. We made our masks yesterday. It’s a little hard to see, if you have them all the way on. But we have learned we can wear them with our glasses on.

We almost had our cocktails with another couple we’ve recently met, but realized we just wanted to be the two of us so we could talk of you children, grandchildren, of Noah’s first Halloween as a dragon, of other dragons we have known.

image3 (1)There were escargots for a first course at dinner. Tom is wearing the shoes I bought for him in London forty-five or so years ago, finding them in a cobbler’s front window next to Brown’s hotel. They had apparently been returned, unwanted, and were a little dusty. But they had his initials on them, albeit in the wrong order. That didn’t matter. The coincidence was too extraordinary. They enhance his costume as Wizard wonderfully.

Now, All Saints Day, we are anchored off Bora Bora. And we have had times ashore. Coming in this morning at 5:30, the sun was rising behind the island.

I felt sorry for those anchored in the shade of the island as we came in so huge and intrusive. But the woman who later sold me some lovely shell crowns did not seem to resent me. We spoke in French as we negotiated the price and how they would be wrapped.

image4When I went to church this morning, I expected to hear the service in French, but it was in Tahitian, much of it inaudible, during which people would start up conversations. But the singing was tremendous. The church was full. Most of the women wore very straight-brimmed straw hats. More men then women.

I speak only French ashore and admit to trying to distance myself from my compatriots. That may not be just or important but it is to me. There is a weightiness, a boasting quality and crassness in overheard conversation that is shocking.

We think of Walt Walkinshaw and of the wonderful documentary Jeanie is making of his life in the U.S. Navy in WWII. There are pictures of Walt here in Bora Bora when it had not even yet been made a base. He and his group were reconnoitering it. And she quotes from his letters in which he tries to explain to his mother and father his awareness of how what he and these others are doing will change this tiny (at least in terms of numbers) culture forever.

It is still vastly beautiful. We stay here another day. Then on to Pape’ete, Raiatea, Rangiroa, and Nukuhiva , before our long haul to San Diego.


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