The chalked message at the side of our house, beneath the arched portico—ideal for the little cars of the 1920s but narrow for those of today—appeared there for the first time a long time ago now to mark one of the visits of grandchildren. Less legibly other names appear to announce that they too slept at this address; those are the names of Malcolm and Henry, the doughty authors of Pontoon Pirates. This fall of 2009, Stella managed to be present all by herself, but in company of her mother. They arrived a week ago on a quick flying trip, out of season, as it were (neither summer nor yet Christmas), but delighting us by illuminating our Thanksgiving holidays.
Michelle’s ability to break away for a brief spell triggered a somewhat fractured but still emotionally uplifting family reunion here—very rare these days with the Ghulf clan spread all over the continents. Susie, my sister, and my brother Baldy, with Peggy his wife, managed to come here too before departing to host get-togethers of their own. We missed the rest of the French clan, busy finishing school (the children) and starring in a French production of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House (Papa): no way to break that contract. We also sorely missed seeing Barbara, our oldest, or her brood; she was prevented from coming by having just begun a very promising new job. Alas the real Ghulf clan, unlike its imaginary counterpart, is not sustained by millions and millions of whatever currency you like derived from zerofric. Skype to the rescue—even if the cameras, now on one side, now on the other, did not always function as they should.
This event will end with the usual yawning abruptness of departures after Thanksgiving dinner at Monique’s and John’s house this year on the shores of Lake Wolverine—where trumpeter swans presently have, as it were, made a stunning appearance in great numbers to signal that even species depleted to nearly unsustainable numbers can bounce back with a little assist from caring elements of humanity. And after that the impersonal sway of airlines and oceans will once more come to spread the distance between us and the usual quiet of the banal everyday shall once more settle with, presumably, the falling snow.