After an excellent evening of dining, reminiscing and enjoying excellent views from the homestead, and Aly’s sourdough pancakes the next morning, we saw our friends, Bill and Susan off safely as they continued their trip north.
We hold out a vague hope that many of our friends and family will visit us on the homestead, but of them all, we had always felt that Bill and Susan would appreciate and understand what we’re doing out here more than anyone else. They were living in the bush before we’d ever dreamed of it, and they share our interest in the wild birds and animals around us. We hadn’t foreseen the day when they would finally come, so this has been a very important visit to us.
Like all good visits, this one held pleasant surprises. The best wasn’t the bottle of champagne they produced and asked if we’d join them in toasting their return to Alaska. Rather, it was the moment when Bill examined our piano, then sat down and began to play. We’d never had an opportunity to hear Bill play; we may not have known that he did. What startled us was watching him improvise a rambling, lyrical, extemporaneous piece very similar to George Winston’s work, while wearing an old flannel shirt, much as Winston supposedly does in concert. When I remarked on that, Susan told us that Bill’s brother and sister both know and have worked musically with George Winston! (The flannel shirt similarity was merely coincidence.) Bill filled the cabin with music, and gave the piano a workout the poor old thing must only dream of, living with our family of hunt and scratch players.
All too soon we hiked out with them and saw them off. Who knows when, or if we’ll see each other again. The important thing is that they took the time to see us now, while we all had the chance.