It is my birthday today and I received the most precious gifts.
The Papa Westray Island folks have a community get together every Wednesday in the community room which is located inside the church, where the doctor’s office is, as well.
I got there at the appointed hour and soon after, the folks came in and took a seat at one of the tables covered with delicious cakes, cookies, scones and cheese. The cups were kept filled with tea and coffee. Conversation was soft and pleasant.
After the chairs were all taken, Jennifer, who expertly runs the hostel where I’m staying said, “I’d like your attention please, a visitor on our island has a birthday today, so join in with me to wish Laureen a happy birthday.” She brought a cake to me with five lit candles and everyone sang. John presented me with a card that I circulated in the room. I wanted to remember this day and the lovely people who live here.
Afterwards I went for a walk on the beach. The Frenchman, Andre had told me he found a quiet place on the beach where he swims nearly everyday, so I wanted to find that spot and began following shoe steps, then the shoe steps were replaced with barefoot steps.
On my way, I picked up sea shells and when there were so many of the same kind, I realized how human nature makes us selective as something becomes plentiful. I got more particular in my search, and at the same time, I looked out at the ocean and nearby there were about nine seals watching me.
Andre had told me earlier in the day, that when he swims there’s one that gets real close to him. “I talk to him.”
“What do you say?”
“I asked what he would have for lunch today, and he replied, ‘fish’”
The seals began watching me as Andre was sitting on the shoreline. Yes, I found his beach, and he was right. It was white sand and quiet, except for the conversation between the seals, and the conversation among the birds, and the sound of the rolling surf.
The seals just stared at me while I tried to get my camera adjusted to record the scene. They would swim close, then, get back together again, and then they would just stay in one spot and watch me. I was in a zoo.
Andre left. and, for awhile, they followed him until he was off the beach, then they came back to watch me. I was in the water up to my knees.
I became distracted with my own thoughts, as I began to think about my life of 75 years and my childhood, and my brother, Jack. Even though he spent most of his life in the mountains, I knew he would have loved the Orkney Islands, and Papa Westray, in particular.
I looked down and found the second gift. A heart-shaped rock in the sand.