This post is for J on his birthday.
To J I owe so many debts. Four children for a start, culminating in four grandchildren and a year in Warsaw – his idea. But there have been many other debts over the years. Let me list the things I owe him for, in no particular order.
A move from an academic life in the city to the life of an almost-hippy and market gardener in the bush.
Conversations over nearly fifty years about poetry, literature, philosophy, language and languages, politics, and any other subject you can think of, which shaped my views in all these fields.
Camping in off-the-beaten-track places – by waterfalls, in rainforest, in the bush and in the desert, even in quarries and tips and beside busy roads.
A series of passions: rainforest, orchids, shells, rocks, boats, and most recently the trees of Warsaw in spring.
A near vegan diet.
A separation that enabled me to live in Broken Hill find out many thing about myself and my capacities.
A six day hike in the wilderness on the NSW / Victorian border and many other shorter walks in wild country.
And there are so many things I admire.
His physical strength and stamina.
His intentional and unconventional life.
His capacity to focus on whatever interests him at the moment with a devotion I could never hope to emulate: learning Polish, building a relationship with Maja and Jaś, constructing a boat or a domed garden, studying mathematics.
His adventurous spirit: he’s rowed a boat up the Murray River, walked around the rim of Mt Warning, sailed across Moreton Bay in a howling gale on his maiden voyage, cycled through Victoria.
When he was a young man he wanted to know everything. He would argue with me, but I reckon he’s come close!
Happy birthday, intermittent companion of 50 years.