It’s Summer Solstice morning and our oldest daughter calls from Seattle at 7:30am to say that her step-sister had her baby. A healthy boy with red hair and a Dutch name. I am bursting to tell the Bearded One, who isn’t back yet from his morning walk.
Mornings have been my hardest acclimation time, but since we’ve been in the house 3 weeks now, I’m not even taking the anti-anxiety pill anymore. Still, this is a real upper, we love this red-headed sister, and I holler to the Bearded One out the open window — She had the baby! — the second I see him opening the gate.
The Bearded One grins and waves. I can’t tell if he’s heard me or not. Between us are palms galore waving and rustling in the wind. The house builder was a member of the Hawaii Palm Society and the acre is chock full of palm trees, thick and thin, tall and short, palmate leaves (like a wide-spread hand and called fan palms) and pinnate leaves (like bird feathers and called feather palms).
Suddenly I remember the other huge excitement we’ve been waiting on and shout again, since he is closer now, by the newly delivered gravel pile, “Did you get the newspaper?!”
He holds the Hawaii Tribune-Herald up and I whoop, and then repeat my news about the baby. “Over eight pounds,” I say, forgetting the exact number, “and a bit of red hair!”
I offer to scramble eggs and fry toast and the Bearded One accepts eagerly and starts to read the newspaper at the built-in island between the kitchen and the dining room (which has no dining table but instead houses our bed until we get many projects finished upstairs).
I have a day of cooking lined up, potato soup and fried rice. We like the Hawaiian Portuguese sausage and I’ve used it in omelettes, burritos, spaghetti, and hash browns.
It’s good to see the Bearded One enjoying a morning newspaper, but I need a bit of hot water and ask him to go turn on the decrepit Paloma, whose pilot light does not stay on.
“Done,” he says and hops right up. I’ve got such a good life, I think. The Bearded One and Tom will install the new Eccotemp propane flash hot water heater tomorrow.
The generator is working again after having stopped because of not having ethanol free gas and getting clogged.
A gem of a man in Hilo fixed it immediately when he heard our tale of it being our only power until we get solar, which is still several weeks away. Friends and family fill the waves washing ashore here with love, and I am reading our 79-year-old neighbor Jim’s novel, which is an honor. He has a fibrillating heart, is a self-proclaimed survivalist, he likes to talk story, and he is a character. The manuscript sits on the end of the kitchen island. I’m on page 27 and there are 133 pages, single-spaced. I’ve read several chapters out loud to the Bearded One late at night, around 8pm.
He returns and I fill the dish tub with hot, soapy water. Washing dishes as I use them helps keep the mosquitoes away. Which we have plenty of, and I have bites, but I’ve learned a protocol – ice, wet washcloth, itch cream. He is humming the song we’ve both had in our heads all week, “You Can Do Magic,” by America. “You can have anything that you desire,” he sings as he plops back onto the stool.
I cook eggs and toast as the Bearded One reads. Our first pet, a gecko, hangs out on the kitchen island.
He likes the Bearded One’s Coke and the morning bagel that I put out to defrost. Geckos are Hawaii. All homes have them. They hunt bugs relentlessly. No roach would last 60 seconds in our house.
The wind blows through the palms and I listen to the doves calling and cooing.
“Ha!” says the Bearded One, and quotes from a Letter to the Editor, “The council’s rush to enshrine its slavish subservience to the shrill hysteria from an army of aging hippies living in Puna!”
“Is that us?”
“Yes, I believe it is,” he says.
I bring over the Bearded One’s breakfast and look at the front page of the Puna paper,
a Solstice article about the dedication of a landing pad for extraterrestrials down in Kalapana. We’ve been there a lot.
We agree that this new baby being born on the very cusp of the Solstice is a good sign. We’ll read his palms.