Friday, March 15, 2013

In shades of grey to Burgoyne Bay...on being an "attentive" spouse.

Kayak "sunshine".
We paddled over to Burgoyne Bay yesterday, in light rainfall and amidst the March, west coast, "shades of grey" - for a little "celebration". Some background information will help explain.

I will admit that I’m not the most attentive spouse when it comes to “special” days. Valentine’s Day comes and goes each year (it's in February, isn't it?) and there's rarely a card, or flowers, or chocolates. Having said that, I’ve never missed a birthday, but sometimes end up creating a last minute card - which, by the way, seems far more “creative” than an expensive store-bought one anyway! Joan never seems to mind that I often fail to think of these things. Of course after forty years, her expectations may, understandably, be minimal. I can honestly say that she maintains an excellent sense of humour regardless of whether or not these days are marked by special festivities.

"Paddy's Milestone" - high and dry.
This year, however, I decided it was time to exceed the usual expectations. With Joan's birthday coming up shortly, it seemed like a rather brilliant idea to design an “early” surprise - at a time when she’d least expect it. This would, I surmised, enhance my "attentiveness rating" substantially, perhaps even exponentially.

The skies were grey but the life on the sea floor was full of colour.
So, what to do? Well, although we rarely dine out, I know Joan enjoys a special meal every now and again. Some readers will remember that I scored major points a couple of years ago with a special dining out experience on a beach (that's only there during low tide) on nearby Saltspring Island. Yes, that was perfect, why not do something similar? I’ll make it an pre-birthday celebration she’ll remember for a long time to come. No longer will I be the guy who lets these events pass with nary a celebration!

Local eagle performing "vertical lift" manoeuvre from a dock.
The plan came together very quickly. I would, once again, take Joan to a nearby Southern Gulf Island where I knew there was another lovely spot - quiet, intimate, very natural, and by the water with a gorgeous view back across to Vancouver Island. We could actually drive there in the High Mobility Kayak Transport Vehicle…but that would mean taking a ferry which seemed like an unnecessary expense. No, we'll just travel there under our own “steam” - after all, "self-propelled" activities rule! Joan won't mind one bit, and it will be cost-efficient.

Now, what to wear? Well, there was no doubt in my mind. This was going to be a special day so I was going to wear my very best suit.

Actually, it’s the only suit I have but it’s very practical and very comfortable. (I do have a nice navy blue blazer but it would feel rather formal in the kayak and could also be ruined in the event of a capsize.)

Choosing "wardrobe" for the occasion.
Yes, so I decided to wear the mango suit. And Joan always looks very stunning in red so I suggested she wear her red outfit - also very practical indeed, given our mode of transportation.

Now, what to have on the menu? Well, it would need to be very special, indeed. This would be, after all, a celebration that I hoped would be more than memorable. The meal, however, would have to be within my limited abilities. Maybe, I can get Joan to assist without her actually knowing? Yes, that should be possible as she is a very agreeable person. No, I'll do it myself. We'll give it a European theme: French bread from a local bakery, spread with roasted beurre d'amandes naturel, and sweet confiture de framboises. Mmmm.

Earlier that day...a gourmet lunch being prepared.

Oh sure, some folks will say that lunch amounted pretty much to a peanut butter and jam sandwich, well it wasn't. It was almond butter. Rather classy, I thought.

Strangely appropriate flotsam - with the correct month and year.
A cloud "snuggles" into a little bay on Saltspring.
The day proceeded as follows. Shortly after breakfast, without telling her what we were doing, I took Joan down to the “Gear Room” and suggested she choose her red “suit” and the usual accessories - PFD, spray cover, paddle, etc. Hoping not to give too much away, I shared with her that we were going somewhere “special”. (I had already prepared and packed our gourmet lunch in a dry bag and hidden it in my kayak.) The plan was going well.

We loaded the kayaks on the racks and headed down to the launch spot, just five minutes from home. Wanting to keep our planned destination a surprise, I suggested we paddle over to Saltspring Island, make a “left” and just do the 2-3 hour loop. After crossing the Narrows, however, I made a casual “right” turn - towards Burgoyne Bay. We landed on the beach about an hour later and my surprise began to unfold - just as planned.

On the beach (and in the mud) at Burgoyne Bay.

As an appetizer, we enjoyed some veggies and homemade hummus (that I had casually asked Joan to prepare the day before). Soon, the time came to bring out the gourmet sandwiches. The paddle, the fresh cool ocean air, and the pure exhilaration of being outside had given us both an appetite. They were simply delicious. I had, of course, not forgotten a beverage and, much to Joan’s delight poured two steaming cups of Ovaltine from the thermos tucked away in the dry bag. Of course, a glass of red wine would have been much nicer, but we still had to paddle home.

Back at Maple Bay, attentive spouse or what?
All in all, a great day on the water and a surprisingly impressive pre-birthday celebration...organized by someone who is clearly learning to be more attentive to such things. :)

This one could be very difficult to top!



  1. Duncan:
    I am truly impressed. However where was Joan while you prepared the "Gourmet Meal"? Did you fess up and tell her it was her special early birthday gift? Love it!!!!

  2. Dear Spartan
    Sorry I missed your last post but thought that your new decals were magnificent, and showed your hull and superstructure off so well. I also made note of the "Lion Rampant", which made me smile, and realise that your owner must be of Scottish extraction. Then I read the blog for today and realised that you can take the Scot out of Scotland but you cannot take Scotland out of your owner.

  3. Duncan,
    Joan is such a lucky woman...what a wonderful day for her and such a special lunch ...she must have been so impressed.
    I was hoping to take her out for lunch but there is no way I can top that special meal.
    Love Mike's comment about you and Scotland and it certainly is speaking the truth :)

  4. Hi J, ah yes, I had to be very discreet about preparing the lunch. Having said that, it took as much time to set up the photo as it did to make the sandwich! Thanks for stopping by, J. Duncan.

    MG, so good to hear from you. I hope MIke is taking good care of you and allowing you out of the garage every so often. Your classic superstructure looks pretty good too! Maybe Mike will buy some decals for you too. :) Your friend in Canada, Spartan. (Mike, do you think we're losing it!)

    Hi L, um, yes Joan sure is lucky! Haha. I think if you have some lunch plans, go right ahead. Joan didn't even mention the sandwich today. D.

  5. Ahh, the art of romance lives on! :o)

    Kind Regards

  6. Haha! Yes it does, Ian. It's in the small, humble, and thoughtful details of life and relationships. :) Best wishes to you. Duncan.

  7. Duncan, your attention to detail amazes me. Even down to matching Joan's outfit with the jam!
    Have a great birthday Joan.

  8. I'm glad you noticed that detail, Sarah. Yes, it took rather a lot of shopping around to find just the right colour of "confiture". :) Thank you for your good wishes. Warm regards, D and J

  9. HI Duncan and Joan,
    Happy Birthday Joan!
    Wonderful blog Duncan. What a wonderful surprise celebration. Last year I decorated for Jay's birthday with one helium balloon with "it's a boy" on it. Now I feel a little sheepish comparing your hard work to my efforts!
    Love, Jen and the gang from snowy Alberta

  10. Haha! Hi Jen, Knowing you, I have a very sure feeling that your "attentiveness" far exceeds mine in these things. And I know that your "gang" appreciates that very much. Always glad to know you're there. Warmest wishes from us to you all. Duncan.

  11. Duncan, your post truly made me smile... and also realize that it is my spouses birthday coming up very soon as well and I'd better get thinking/planning. I love the pre-birthday surprise celebration idea! Cheers.

  12. Thank you, Alison, so glad the post provided a smile. Now, of course, to think of something equally impressive on the actual day! :) Thanks so much for your comment. Duncan.