Birthday Boy

We celebrated Jonathan’s 50th birthday* last weekend with, appropriately enough, a garden party. Well, a garden party our style. And it’s appropriate because the 80 foot by 80 foot garden/party palace was made with the hard work and vision of my siblings, with a little help from our (heavy machinery owning) friends. It all started a few years ago, when Megan and Jonathan decided to grub up the huckleberries and bull pines and make a garden out of nothing.

I sometimes wonder if they regret making this dream come true, since they seem to spend half of the year weeding, making compost tea, and watering and the other half canning, preserving, and getting ready for next year.

Jonathan spent his actual birthday climbing a mountain:


Which seems only fitting for an adventurous guy who is never happier than when he’s rescuing someone who fell off a cliff, or fighting wildfires, or scuba diving in or sailing down the coast of the notoriously dangerous Pacific. When he got back from his birthday adventure, he was greeted by a birthday dinner of spaghetti squash and sauce made of tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, and basil, all grown in the garden and served on the Waltons-sized picnic table he built a couple of years ago, now ensconced under the canopy Rob picked up at the mall**.

Erica made fried green tomatoes on the outside burner – dinner theater! She also made a fantastic southern Italian polenta cake with ginger-peach jam, dried figs, and quince steeped brandy. She grew all the fruit, so our home grown theme continued.

Our friend Carrie joined us, with her daughter Miranda, who is now 13. It had been a couple of years since Carrie and Miranda made it up here to visit from the Bay Area, and Miranda has become the cat whisperer. She was actually able to pet Jonathan’s skittish, semi-feral mini cat Scout outside, a nearly unheard of feat. While Miranda was charming Scout, we reminisced about how Carrie had come to my apartment in San Francisco for Thanksgiving dinner just weeks before Miranda was born and other happy memories from long ago.

The sun set in a spectacular fashion, the sky suffused with enough pink and lavender to gladden a Suzy’s heart (or make a Garden Party cocktail) above the dark trees. The technicolor gave way to glorious black and white, in the form of cloudless, ink black sky and brilliant stars. The city dwellers were awed by the light show, which reminded me to maybe not take it quite so much for granted.

As Jessica escorted Fair Suzy to her car, I realized that I had failed to take a single photo that evening. I was having too much fun eating and talking and being with my friends and family. I read somewhere that you make better memories if you don’t take pictures, because you’re living it instead of documenting it. I don’t know if it’s true, but I do know that it was a wonderful, memorable evening.

Here’s to the next half century!

*He is now my older brother. 🙂

**The dump, to the uninitiated. Rob is not like most people, and unlike most people, he doesn’t just drop things off there – he picks them up, too. It’s amazing what useful things he has found there.

A YEAR AGO: Miscellaneous things and stuff.