I went to the beach this morning. After 24 hours of chills and aches from Friday’s booster shot, I needed the sun and ocean breezes to recover. Setting the clocks back allowed for some extra reading time, so I dug into John LeCarre’s new book, Silverview–for the second time. The first pass left me feeling less than secure in responding to friends’ requests for my opinion. The beginning and the end were clear but how one led to other was not. I read it in spurts and LeCarre requires focus. The book was one of many I received for my birthday- a surprise 82nd birthday party with more than 100 people. The gifts in their own way told me something about what people think of me or how well they know me, and everyone must know I’m an avid reader. So aside from the current best sellers, of which there were many, the books of special interest mainly fell into two categories—car porn and fishing. The car books, of course, were about Jaguar and Land Rover—histories and coffee table books. Most people in my immediate circle know I have been restoring two classics: a 1971 Series III Land Rover Defender and a 1962 Mark II Jaguar, as I have enthusiastically shared many photos of the painstaking progress with friends and family. The new paint job on the Jag took almost a year, and though have been out in the car a few times around the neighborhood, it now refuses to respond to reverse gear. Trouble backing out of parking spaces sure limits drivability. I would have been better off with a standard transmission. The Defender—an Out of Africa beauty, is being restored in Washington state and is destined to be my camp car in Maine.
And the fishing books I received – so many terrific ones. Of course, everyone in my orbit as well as any reader of this column knows I am passionate about fishing. From memoirs to one special book of Hemingway excerpts on fishing, I have a whole new library to choose from now. Though I am grateful for the generous and thoughtful presents, the gifts that meant the most were the accompanying cards and notes. One that stands out, “I trust you Lenny” was most touching, from a long-term client whom I have guided in business for some 35 years.
After my 80th birthday two years ago, I swore off birthday parties. Enough already! No one expects a huge birthday party for turning 82, which compounded the surprise quotient at this one. It was given by a new friend, Heath, who had no idea about my “no more parties” vow and in hindsight I am glad he didn’t. It was the type of event I never would have held for myself, or for that matter have supported had I known about it. Yet it was one I will never forget. In one evening, I was surrounded by family, friends and colleagues spanning some 65 years.
Getting back to today’s outing. The surf was up and the boards were out en masse. Black clad surfers bobbed in the rough water trying to catch rides to shore. The sun gleamed. Seagulls feasted on mollusks at the water’s edge. Another great beach day in Florida. Now back to my book.