MAY 1

May first, second or even Cinqo de Mayo never meant anything very much to me in my past city life. April 30th. Whatever….they were just numbers or dates before and they were numbers that dictated my schedule from the demands of my appointment calendar. Each day was just another day in the hectic rush that was urban life. I was OK with all that at the time….didn’t really know any different. I was too busy to stop and smell the flowers and, anyway, what would be the point of smelling flowers?

May first is a BIG DEAL now! May first and the garden work begins in earnest. May first is the beginning of the commercial prawn fishery. May first has heretofore marked the beginning of our ‘popular’ season. Typically, the first of the visitors would arrive within the week. The bottom of the boats need attention right about now. Raven babies will be here soon. Oysters may be suspect (Red Tide) and the worst part: the tides are all low in the afternoon (makes carrying heavy crap so much more difficult). The date may be important (give or take a week) but only because it marks the beginning of the BIG seasonal chores and changes.

Rural life generally erodes the now typical, urban adherence to the clock and the calendar for the rest of the year. And life OTG practically eliminates it. The clock no longer counts all that much, the sun does. The tides do. Most of us around here are unsure about the day of the week and oblivious to the time in minutes. No one wears a watch. We can do hours and minutes when we have to you (i.e. vaccine appointment) but, generally speaking time is now set out in daily chunks, as in, “I’ll get to it tomorrow morning or maybe early afternoon.” No one says, “I will be there at 10:15 am but have to leave for an appointment at 11:45.” That kind of statement would be considered a joke.

I would say that May first is a date of significance and maybe October 31st is similar in that the former seems to mark the onset of summer (here summer comes early) and the latter date marks the end to a lot of outdoor chores and activities. Instead of a busy calendar of 350 days plus, I have a slack calendar that pivots on two days.

And I adjust the solar panels around those two times as well.

This ‘Island Time’ mindset is not restricted to the OTG folks interacting on an imprecise clock, it includes the services we have brought in. I took some stuff to the barge terminal last month to have brought out (big and heavy) and they said, “Well, the barge is up on the hard. Hope to get to you after the 18th of May.” And Sal and I were down doing some wiring on our boat yesterday morning (April 30) and Sal heard the deep rumble of the barge. I ran over the hump to see and, sure enough, the barge was at the beach. Surprise! A two-ton delivery was being made 18 days off the schedule and not a word was even mentioned.

“Hey, we are just happy to have it here!”

We have now pretty much integrated getting food from the store delivered to the community dock. That is now a popular service only to see more and more grocery/delivery use over time. The women who volunteer to distribute the load when it gets there come from all around (two or three separate islands). Their commute is at least 30 minutes to 45 minutes. They never have a clue when the food boat is going to come until the last minute when either the boat calls or one of the women call the boat. Even then, the chore is often fulfilled an hour later than predicted or even more. The only thing they know for sure is that the food will likely come around noon, give or take a couple of hours. Maybe three.

That’s OK, the women all like each other and they socialize but, in the winter, that can mean standing in the rain or the snow. It can be a smidge irritating – and it will ever be thus…..delivery times are made in chunks, too.

When I lived in the city, it was the opposite. I had appointments. Maybe as many as five in a day and always in different places. I was also a smidge compulsive about being on time. So, I would often find myself driving in heavy traffic with my knee, eating a glop-burger while talking on the cell phone and writing notes in my calendar (talk radio on in the background) all so that I could be on time. I had synced myself to the clock to the point that I knew within minutes what the time was throughout the day. Put more succinctly, it was a minor madness.

Ironically and, perhaps colorfully, I would describe this difference in perspective with a pendulum metaphor. I was minute-driven in the city and now I am sun, tide and seasonally driven. The difference is huge.

17 thoughts on “MAY 1

  1. What about your biological clock? I have to get up on weekdays at 6am. Even when I’m tired as hell, I wake up on saterdays and sundays at 6am, it’s my biological clock that won’t stop ticking. Do you wake up when it’s clear outside, meaning sleeping later in winter and waking up earlier in summer? I am still on the tight schedules you describe in your blog, no time to smell the flowers

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    • I waken mostly with the sun….it takes an hour but I am awake at 7:00 ish in the summer, 9:00ish in the winter. People out here are similar. One guy calls it his ‘hibernation’ season.

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    • A ‘lot’ used to mean 30 or so staying for a few days or more. But that has changed. Now it means maybe 10 for a few days or more. And, with Covid still on the scene, that may diminish even further. Last year, we think it was only five. Covid stopped a lot. Covid will still stop many this and next year. But we are also a smidge less inviting. It is always work and a drain on all systems and, even tho we love our friends and family, we are cutting back a bit just because we were totally exhausted at the end of the popular season after the last BIG one.

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      • I can understand. COVID restrictions have lessened a bit since april 26th. We are allowed now to see 10 people at the same time outside. So after 1.5 years, we finally invited our kids and grandkids for a family BBQ. It was fun seeing them after such a long time, but they just left and we are exhausted :-). See I get your point. If you have to do that months in a row, it must be draining ALL your resources!

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      • In the beginning it was just all fun – showing off our new digs, introducing the guests to the ravens and the whales, getting a hand with the firewood and, of course, lots of wine and cheese and great dinners. But the work load was pretty big. Laundering everything for the next guests and shopping for double/triple the food, cleaning, fixing things, jamming in chores between visitors……the various costs just added up. It kinda ruined it for the last visitor because – whoever that was – it was too much. DO NOT MISUNDERSTAND ME!!! All our guests, friends and families are fabulous and we love ’em. Plus they chip in and bring food and most of them know to bring scotch. THEY are NOT the problem. The problem is US. We are just ‘getting on’ and don’t have the energy for ‘lots’ of people anymore. Whoever comes first gets lots of love and our attention. Whoever comes last gets an old couple who’d rather just sit for awhile.

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  2. I have some workers heading up to Stuart Island tomorrow.
    Catching a water taxi from CR at 8:30.
    They’re gonna be working at the Lodge for a few days doing repairs.
    I couldnt make it….this time…..other work commitments.

    Maybe next time I can get up there and have a “mid ocean” pickup like Jason Bourne!

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    • Abso-bloody-lutely. The water taxi goes right by our place. But we can do a different route for you to be cheaper (the water taxi is a fortune). Senora has their own ‘copter. Re-do the contract to get heli-service?

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      • No . They supplied the water taxi gratis.
        That was part of the deal to get 3 guys up there for several days of repairs.
        I would have loved to go but we’re busy here with 3 other jobs down here.

        I worked last night with two other guys from 10pm til 6 am and then had to go back in to work and unload from last nights tools and material and reload for tomorrow’s work.
        Crazy busy.

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  3. well I figure you missed one of the more important May 01 events. Cod fishing is open. thats why you have a ling cod somewere

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