A particular joy takes root when friends gather and each is given the freedom to fall into their natural selves; this happens through required—and desired—participation, through presentness. The gifting of oneself and one’s talents is a most honest way of sharing with those around us, because it forbids pretense, and demands that we give others something real, something tangibly experienced. Far too rarely do we truly enact this kind of gift-giving—this sacrifice, even—but when we do, something holy and unexpected happens.
We convened on a chilled, wet Portland morning, and piled ourselves and our things into Wagner and Boles (an old Jeep Wagoneer and the 1953 Boles-Aero trailer it towed), along with a few blue Volvos. The trek to the coast is roughly two hours (if you don’t stop for firewood, prerequisite coffee, and lock your keys in the car along the way), but the drive is transformative, sloughing off the city’s busyness and replacing it with surprising calm. We punctuated the quiet with the nostalgia of football-game-static, Peruvian tunes and Louis Armstrong, joined by Frank Sinatra, and, of course, by all of us.
Arriving at the sea after a long bout away alerts you to an absence you suddenly discover is vast, and we filled ourselves by absorbing the damp sand, the salty mist, the drizzle in the air. We soon began our tasks, unloading food, chairs, glasses, pillows, guitars, accordion, lamps, tableware—we packed sufficiently for days. The real magic of this unfolding was that everyone so casually and carefully fell into themselves, whether this looked like salad-tossing, readying the cooking coals, table-making, foraging on the shore, creating music, or recording it all, with moving film and photograph.
Coming to the table, where we knelt before a spread of gifted efforts from each person present, was the crux of our gathering. The thought of breaking bread together had brought us to the coast, and we duly celebrated every bite of salad, salmon, sweet potato, pumpkin bread, swig of beer and sip of wine. The night darkened around us, but our evening peaked with the collaborative music-making of six talented friends, sharing tunes in groups of two, three, and four. With hands full of chocolate-hazelnut pie and tin mugs of coffee, we alternately shook with awed wonder and laughter, as the melodies of our friends overwhelmed. The day ended in cold, blustery gales, but carried by the collective warmth of making a momentary home together, set apart by the sea.
Words by: Julie Pointer