Today we celebrate 29 years, Favourite Wife and I. We are toasting with champaign and Christmas pudding (pillaged from our stockpile), as the afternoon sun dapples the shady verandah of The Karenvan.
This morning we were living the high live in the Victorian alps, where there is still more than a metre of snow – astonishing in a drought. We woke to see the sun cresting snow covered mountains, in the same crystal blue skies we enjoyed yesterday when we took the chair lift way, way up to the ski fields. We bought hot chocolate and apple pie at the top, and sat outdoors in warm sunshine and brilliant white snow.
On the way down the mountain we stopped for lunch in a steep valley where two rivers meet. This secluded spot was a great discovery, and we boiled our billy beside the hectic, churning convergence of snow-melt in the junction of the swollen rivers.
“We have a good life, don’t we?” one of us asked, cup in hand.
Indeed, we do.
The remainder of our lunch in the green, secret gorge and the whole drive back here to the Lake was not enough time for us to compare our thoughts on just how good our life has been as the years have passed, and how rich, how prosperous, our life is now. Our freshest recollection is only a week old: last weekend we celebrated my Favourite’s 60th here at the Lake with friends and family. For a week we had all our children and our seven grandchildren coming and going, visiting and living here in the park. We took a dozen tennis balls and almost as many racquets to the tennis court and set a new family record of a five – FIVE! – shot rally. A bright yellow birthday kayak was paddled way out into the lake by its 60 year old owner who had only been on the water twice before in her life (an adventure on her 50th birthday, as it happens); demonstrating the courage and vitality that will carry her into the future. Some of us even went swimming: chilly, but great fun. We played games and did craft with grandchildren through sunny days, and spent cold evenings with the adults huddled around the tall yellow flames of the gas heater on our veranda, exchanging stories and details of our very different lives.
Of course life isn’t always week long party, and we aren’t without our harrowing stories as well. There are the essential tales of hardship with which all parents must regale the younger generation, (We were married for ten years before we purchased our first brand new item of furniture! True story.) And there are the times we don’t mention so often when, like any family, we have felt frayed and weary and all but torn asunder by the rough handling of life. We’ve both had brushes with mortality. We’ve borne the pressures of finance, self-employment and business. Home buying that went wildly wrong. Relationships stressed near to breaking. We have lost dear family and friends, faced serious illness and other great sadness. And, of course, there are wheelchairs and breathing machines, even out here at the beautiful Lake. All that challenging stuff, common to mankind, one way or another.
Late in our anniversary day we came upon two more questions: What are we each looking forward to? and, How do we live faithfully with such privilege in our lives? The first was easy and very engaging. But the second question is more demanding, elusive and, for me at least, troubling. All our answers are far too personal to tell, but the questions I highly recommend.
Give us a “Hoy”!……..