Today is my birthday--55 years old! Hurrah! And happy birthday to all of you who share this day with me! Librans all: trying to keep everything in balance, harmonious and  well-tempered.

Happy Birthday Alison, and Natalie! Many Happy Returns, NickyD. I've had the birthday song pounding through my head all day; perhaps, in the spirit of John Lennon's recent birthday, Beloved Ottmar's father sent me a link to the song--and that led me straight into an orgy of listening to every single version. I love that Paul McCartney is still at it...and so I share my favorite version with you. There is nothing more touching than aging rockers, and I am one!

You say it's your birthday
It's my birthday too, yeah
They say it's your birthday
We're gonna have a good time
I'm glad it's your birthday
Happy birthday to you.

Yes we're going to a pally party
Yes we're going to a pally party
Yes we're going to a pally party

I would like you to dance (Birthday)
Take a cha-cha-cha-chance (Birthday)
I would like you to dance (Birthday)

I would like you to dance (Birthday)
Take a cha-cha-cha-chance (Birthday)
I would like you to dance (Birthday)

You say it's your birthday
Well it's my birthday too, yeah
You say it's your birthday
We're gonna have a good time
I'm glad it's your birthday
Happy birthday to you.

My celebrations began last weekend, because my sister the Divine Nicole organized a group brunch for friends in Boston. I missed Caroline, who was tearing through the sky in an airplane. Her son Charlie has just announced his engagement to his beautiful Laura, so there we have it, the seasons go round and round. New love--new babies soon I hope!--in our older lives. I was glad to see Zoe and her husband Doug--we have been friends since we met in college at the frat house we were busting open to women. (I wish I could claim feminist intent, but I was driven by a purely architectural lust; the fraternity occupied by far the handsomest building on the quad. And it had literary pretensions.) Zoe and I have a picture composed quite like this from 1984, when she came to visit me in Austin, Texas. I'll have to dig it out.

My beloved E was at the party. I get the message: she hates having her picture taken. But she was wearing an intriguing bracelet that I had to get a snap of--a sort of rubbery chain with a silver, engraved capsule linked on it, that opened to reveal a secret chamber. She told us a great story about it.

The bracelet was made by our old friend, and a House and Garden colleague, Judyth van Amringe. Everything Judyth touches becomes a work of art. (She made me a gift of the grey patterned scarf of vintage kimono fabric that I am wearing, too, but I'll post separately on that work later.) Anyway, E was told that the silver capsule was supposed to contain a prayer. This proceeded to haunt her for days, because, as she told us, she didn't have a prayer that she said regularly, and she felt she was failing the bracelet by leaving the tiny vessel empty. She then slid into a funk because all kinds of things were falling apart--this is what happens daily in college, as I remember all too well. On the third day of her torpor, E was sitting on a sidewalk, waiting to meet a friend. It was sad, gray, spitting sort of weather.

Suddenly, the clouds parted and a patch of sunlight began to dance on the sidewalk near her. A shred of paper caught her eye as the sun shone around it, and when she picked it up she saw that it was from a fortune cookie: Even the toughest of days have the bright spots, just do your best, it read. She folded up the paper with a new prayer for the tiny capsule, a gift from on high.

E is a very beautiful soul. I'm not allowed to say her name because I'm going to post the picture I took; she has laughing eyes, I think. When I look at her I see my sister at her age.

I'm crazy about E--and her twin brother too. He often joined us at my house, as a child, for Boy's Night dinner. E is my roommate on family trips; we went to Patagonia together, and as we watched icebergs calving and melting, fast and furious, she said, I guess this gives new meaning to moving at a glacial pace. E has just completed a record--yes, a vinyl LP, that is now considered cool--of her favorite new thing, called Noise Music. I will have to catch up.

By mid-afternoon of my birthday I felt the need to return to the amniotic fluid--no mystery there.

I went for a very long ocean swim, wearing the short wetsuit my most excellent brother-in-law Steve Rifkin gave me. The water is still warmer than the air, and the buoyancy nearly made me giddy with pleasure.

Even the ocean has begun to flaunt autumn colors. As I paddled around, I noticed that the seaweed has become more vivid; the greens are nearly neon, and the browns are tinged with an oxblood hue.

Frances sent a box of dahlias from her garden, and though they complained, in their high-pitched drama queen voices, about having been treated so roughly, they arrived only a bit rumpled and flattened.

Some were keepers, some had to be left out on the lawn to perk up, but all of them were intensely gorgeous. Nothing like a box of flowers in the mail, straight from a friend's garden...I even got some bright little bugs.

And this tiny creature sat by my door for a few minutes this afternoon, sunning himself. All in all, I am loving my intertidal years, as I think of them, years just like that strangely always shifting part of the beach between high and low tides. Since it is my birthday, I'm giving myself permission to quote from Slow Love: "I have just begun to accept the relentless flux that is the condition of my life, of all our lives. Not young, not old; not betrothed, not alone; thinking back, looking forward; not broken, not quite whole anymore, either. But present."

I'm glad it's your birthday, Happy Birthday to you!


Maria said...

HAPPY HAPPY YEAR AHEAD....I find it comforting to celebrate that way - and re-read 'Gifts from the Sea' by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, which was published in 1955 a year before my birth, and still feels current to me!
Oh by the way - HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

vicki archer said...

I wish you a wonderful year ahead Dominique...such a warm and lovely post to celebrate your birthday....Friendship and family....what would birthdays be without them? xv

queen_cupcake said...

I loved reading this beautiful blog entry today. Happy birthday!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday.

Ashling said...

From one stranger in the blogosphere to another, who gifts us with such eloquent and elegant simplicity--a most joyously, raucously glorious birthday!

Susan said...

Happy Birthday from a lover of your blog. Glad you are feeling special on this day!

Miss Whistle said...

Happy Birthday Dominique. The dahlias, the little bird, the ocean -- everyone is celebrating. And you look so beautiful.

Love your blog.

Miss Whistle xx

Sharen said...

Happy Birthday from another lover of your blog! Your beautiful flowers and bracing swim all look like lovely ways to celebrate the day along with family and friends! To health and happiness!
Comme on dit ici...Tchin! Tchin!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

"... but then there was a star danced, and under that was I born."....

A very Happy Birthday to you, Dominique!

julie degni marr said...

A toast to you, lovely person and writer extraordinaire. Wishing you all the joy you give to others - today and always. Happy new year!

My Dog-Eared Pages said...

Happy Birthday Dominique! What a lovely day. I think I need to get a wetsuit! ; )

quintessence said...

A very happy birthday to you, Dominique! (I'm a few days behind you, and will be waiting to see which of my family will remember to call me!). I'm sure you hear this all the time but you and your sister and those eyes...I love your celebration week - all of it!

Patricia said...

Happy Birthday Dominique! My birthday (55th too!) is coming up in less than two weeks and the images you shared of your beautiful birthday flowers felt like an early birthday greeting to me too ---

A Gift Wrapped Life said...

A beautiful birthday post and such a lovely box of dahlias (what a thoughtful friend). I loved hearing about the the found message. Strange things happen. Happy, happy birthday.

Unknown said...

My first visit to your blog....and it's your birthday! How fun is that?! May it be a special year, filled with gifts that you can not even imagine!!!

Happy Birthday, to YOU!
~ Elizabeth

Mrs. Blandings said...

Wishing you the very best! Happy birthday.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday to a woman whose heart, mind and soul I give thanks for every day.

From a long-time reader who is forever grateful you were born,


Joa said...

Happy, happy birthday Dominique! Thank you for all that you give to us. Thank you.

karenleslie said...

Happy birthday to you and many thanks for all your great posts. We in blogland appreciate you, and while i love all the photos, my favorite was of a smiling you -- those eyes...

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Dear Dominique, Happy Birthday to you. Wishing you a most wonderful year ahead, Hugs, a fellow Libra, Joyce

Maria Grasso said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Dear Dominique, Joyce here again. Went to your Birthday song link, thank you, I loved it and I'm so glad Paul McCartney is still at it too! Hugs

Thea said...

Happy Birthday, Dominique! Yesterday was mine. So, you are a Libra, too. Oh, what I would give to receive a box full of dahlias! Lucky you! Have a wonderful, happy, healthy year! Glad I found you. Your writing brings me great pleasure and insight. t

david terry said...

Dear Ms. Browning,

My best friend in college (this was Sewanee, the University of
the South...a school which has always functioned in part as a petri-dish for self-concious affectation) always used to throw a big dinner party on his birthday, complete with presents for all the guests. It was all very swank (not that we would have known that word, back then and there) for an 18-22 year old. He once showed his hand, however, by drunkenly informing me that "Oh, the most aristocratic thing you can do is to give presents AWAY on Your Birthday!".

At the time, I simply thought he was a terrible snooty-boots, and I hadn't thought of that line in years...until I just read your own fine birthday posting.....which is indeed a lovely gift to your readers on your own birthday.

In any case....a happy birthday to you. I should also give you the gift of that friend's own, not remarkably self-effacing phrase....he always referred to his birthday as "the Anniversary of My Blessed Nativity".

Incidentally? No one's ever done anything for my birthday since I was six. On that birthday, my mother (who's just NOT a detail-oriented MArtha Stewart type) made big, paper dunce-caps for my brother (he's the same age) and me. She used a magic-marker to write our initials on each hat. His name is "Victor". SO?...there's a wonderful, close-up photograph of the two us from that day in 1967....we're both scowling (we'd been scolded for something just before the party) on the front steps in Biloxi, Mississippi.... and we're wearing dunce-caps that prominently read "V" & "D". My father claims he could probably sell the rights to varous state sexual-health education organizations. My mother, of course, has NEVER gotten the joke.

After that, I had thirty or so years of my birthday's (it's 11 June) inevitably falling on the exact weekend everyone was going to camp or summer skool or something. I was always in transit when the dang thing happened.

Even these days?....between the 9th and 12th of June over the past seven years, we're invariably leaving for a month in France. I don't get much symnpathy, though, when folks ask me "What did Herve DO for your birthday?", and all I can offer is "Well....nothing, actually.....he just put me on a plane for free to France, and we had to spend the night at his apartment in Paris before we drove down to Tours and other, like, stuff, you know?....he didn't even tell the stewardesses..."

As I said, I never get much sympathy regarding my birthday deprivations.

A Happy Birthday to you,

David Terry

austere said...

Many happy returns, and the best of the light, and the brightest greens and flouncy yellows, and well yes, flagrant reds.

Have a blissful year.

pve design said...

Happy Birthday to you dear.
Live in the moment, enjoy the present and the gift of days past and ahead. Love your bright eyes and words.

Cristina said...

may all your days be this gorgeous, dear Ms. Browning!
and thanks for sharing one more time with us your deepest joy (in your usual soft & light way).

Anonymous said...

I turned 50 on Monday, the 18th. I feel like your birthday message was a gift to me. It's no wonder you always so beautifully verbalize what I so often feel. I too am constantly trying to keep everything in harmony, I guess I too am a true Libra.

Anonymous said...


Happy Birthday to YOU!!

Lots of love

Darci said...

Happiest of Birthdays, Dominique! Thank you for sharing such a fantastic day with us. I'm SO glad it was a great, ongoing celebration!

Intertidal years are such a blessing!

Cynthia Iris said...

A gorgeous birthday card to yourself that we get to share! Thank you, Dominique and Happy Birthday! Cynthia Iris

Lines of Beauty said...

Dominique I posted about Slow Love yesterday not even knowing it was your birthday. I love your book and your blog. Keep it coming you amazing woman! I am relatively new at this so if you see anything that you hate let me know and I'd be happy to edit it :-)


Unknown said...

Thanks for the post. Your blog never fail to lift my spirit up :)Happy birthday and I hope newer gifts keep on coming...

Peggy Montano & Paintings said...

Lovely post. I am coming back so that I can read it at a
slower pace.

mary said...

Happy Birthday--congratulations on a day perfectly spent. Mine's coming up (1st day of Scorpio) and i intend to relish every moment. Blessings.

Ronnie said...

You had me with the Beatles (and we share the same birth year)...then the rest of this post was like a big hug to you and your readers. Happy Birthday, Dominique (and thanks for the hug!)

Barbara said...

Beautiful post, as always your images are gorgeous. I'll raise a glass to your birthday and wish you all the best in the future!
Thanks for sharing.

Suzanne Rico said...

Hi Dominique,

I am a new reader. I loved the excerpt in the NY Times, but couldn't bring myself to read it until recently. I was fired from my job as a morning news anchor woman in March, then decided to leave a long time career behind and hit the road with my family in search of something different. We have two small children, and I felt I was trading their childhood for a paycheck (a very thorny issue for many women). So, Los Angeles is in the rear view mirror, but I can't see clearly what is coming down the road. Many things you wrote resonated deeply, so thanks for reminding me I am not along in trying to forge a new path. Your photos are beautiful too. Happy Birthday.

Suzanne Rico said...

Hi Dominique,

I am a new reader. I loved the excerpt in the NY Times, but couldn't bring myself to read it until recently. I was fired from my job as a morning news anchor woman in March, then decided to leave a long time career behind and hit the road with my family in search of something different. We have two small children, and I felt I was trading their childhood for a paycheck (a very thorny issue for many women). So, Los Angeles is in the rear view mirror, but I can't see clearly what is coming down the road. Many things you wrote resonated deeply, so thanks for reminding me I am not along in trying to forge a new path. Your photos are beautiful too. Happy Birthday.

Sarah said...

Every speck of your writing is a gift, and this is a very special present from you to all of us on your special day! xoxo

C J said...

Happy Birthday! I think you are a gift....

Anonymous said...

Dearest and Happiest Birthday Dominique ! Your writing is such a joy each day ... and your gift to all of us is, in fact and like your fortune cookie, often one of the brightest spots (it's tough out there these days!)
Warmest and Best,
Me-Stray the Path

I enclose a gift of my favorite quotes. It seems very Slow-Love-ish and is for your coming year:

“Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noting it, live your way into the answer.”

Rainer Maira Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Maureen Sullivan Stemberg, Interiors said...


Wishing you a very *Happy Birthday Year!* Filled with happiness, joy and laughter.

Enjoy your HB year!


SweetRetreat said...

Happy Birthday Dominique. My, the water looks inviting. I'm so envious. Best wishes from a fellow Libra, just barely (Sept 23).

Anonymous said...

No wonder I find you such a kindred spirit, Dominique--today is my birthday, too!--and Mickey Mantle's, which helps my husband remember the date. And did you know that (according to the calculations of a long-ago English bishop whose name I can't remember)it is also the birthday of the WORLD? Today I am 60, a round and somewhat dowdy age, but oh well. Like you I had a small, feathered visitor--not your Golden-Crowned Kinglet, but a White-Breasted Nuthatch, gleaming white and slate blue, spiraling round and round the branches of a black locust tree, muttering "Yank yank." Can't seem to escape these Yankee fans, even on my birthday...

May the tides bring you more of everything you love. Happy Birthday!

Ailsa said...

And I'm adding my birthday wishes to the many already received. And you must savour the fact that you can be in Manhattan AND swimming in a wind-swept sea on the same day. Lucky you!

C. Robin Janning said...

Happy Birthday -- may it bring a year of beauty and joy.

Cristina said...

P.S. by sheer chance, this morning I fell into a witty, lovely, charming article on "O's Quote-of-the-Day".com that made me laugh (beside feeling relieved to see I'm not the only one in this world who prefers eating to cooking...)
Does the title "Rediscovering the Crock-Pot - and Meals that cook themselves" (Sept. 2009) ring a bell with you?! ;-)
Simply ravishing.

Dominique said...

THANK YOU ALL! And yes! Let's LIVE THE QUESTIONS--and perhaps someday live our way into the answers. Beautiful thought from one of my favorite poets, Rilke. d

Barbara said...

You say "not quite whole anymore" and though I completely understand your meaning, I'm not sure that "not whole" is really the descriptive word. What is "whole" in regards to an entire life, when constant change from birth until death is life's hallmark? As you loose some things, you gain others. The very young might not understand yet, but (unless they meet an early end) they will in time.

lila said...

I really loved reading this beautiful blog entry today. Happy birthday!
Wishing you Many,many,many more fun and happy days ahead of you.
Love you blog ,love you beautiful soulful posts and most of all love the beautiful pictures.

helen tilston said...

Dominique- thank you for sharing your special celebration with us. You transported me along and for a few minutes I was there with you and your friends and the incredible bird just rounded off the moment. Wishing you a year full of blessings and joy
Helen Tilston

Cristina said...

Hi there Dominique,

I just found your blog after my husband forwarded me an article that was in the NYT about long hair.
Thanks so much for that! I'm 34 and graying now (do henna coverups occasionally) with hair below my waist. I hope to grow older gracefully...with my long hair!
Thanks for sharing the beauty of your day, slow love life and Happy Birthday!!!!!

Jane said...

Hello Dominique and a belated Happy Birthday. What a lovely birthday celebration you had, and what terrific photos--made me homesick.
I enjoyed your NYT piece on long hair and have left a comment.

Unknown said...

I have joyously discovered you via a column about your long hair in the NY TImes and I am a fan already... your writing and editorial career is so impressive and I yearn for my days in New England after seeing your birthday shots - hoping you had a grand day, I too aged one more year this October. Cheers and best wishes, I've found a blog and writer that will be new, fresh inspiration for my own creative journey! Happy New Birthday Year!


rdc said...

Happy belated birthday, Dominique. (I tend to run late on these things.) I showed up in 1955, too, and have been enjoying your writing for many years. Thank you for the reminder of "The Pillowbook." Did you mention that in one of your H&G columns? Anyway, it had somehow fallen of my *to-read* list. Adding it back now!

Väva! Veve! said...

I almost didn't leave a comment because there were 55 comments already posted. One for each of your years. But I had to respond, since I am a October birthday too, just 2 years and 3 days before you. Your post on your celebration day had a hint of the serious. . . or maybe it was a strong sense of introspection. Or perhaps a bit of happiness at the attention and a bit of blue upon realizing mortality yet again. Whatever the case, I had felt these same feelings just 3 days prior, not sure whether I should be happy or concerned about my own 57th milestone. But I too was greeted with friends and family, injecting my mood with joy at being alive. The sun shone, and the leaves had managed to stay on the trees until my day, and it was a colorful feast for my eyes. In the 5th decade of our lives, we can either sit and wish for more life or, as I prefer, go out and enter into it with fervor (such as swimming in the ocean in mid October in Rhode Island!). Aging is a challenging part of life to accept, but in thinking about it, aging is also the reflection of how one's life has been spent. We can celebrate our age, our wisdom, our laugh lines; or we can exist as ghosts in our autumnal years, preferring to hark to the past for the joy that we need. I think if the choice is ours to make, it should be to look forward and continue, always continue to learn new things. Your writings beckon me to do that, examining even the simplist of things in a new light. I look forward to reading your sensitive and thought provoking writings for a long time to come! Happy Birthday to YOU!


urgent to locate Dominique Browning re LONG HAIR AT MID LIFE ....BRAVO. says BALD danny bloom in taiwan at 61, Tufts 1971


also HAPPY B-EARTHDAY aka birthday and also this: why do WE celebrate our birthdays on our birthdays, it's really OUR MOTHERS who we should be celebrating, THEY gave birth to us on this day, remember?

Anonymous said...

I am reading this after reading the article in the NYT re long hair on middle-aged women. Since the article didn't have any comment function, I figured I'd come over here and let you know I'm all for it. Truth be told, though, I am a male. Personally, long hair looks good all women. When I read that someone with long hair hacked it all off, I always wonder why.
Anyway, happy belated birthday.
-Stephen - NYC
10/23/2010 12:17 EDT.

Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

Happy belated! I celebrated on the 18th...yay Libras :D

Karena said...

Dominique wishing you a Happiest of Birthdays!! You have been a great inspiration to me!!

Art by Karena

C. Robin Janning said...

This is my MOST favorite birthday song!! I wish it back to you. Thank you for sharing it, your words, and the extraordinary photos.

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday from another Libra! I turned 72 so even the grandchildren are grown or almost grown. But miracles never cease: last year a long long long lost love came looking for me, and here we are lovers again after we thought all had been lost. You never know what wonderful times still lie ahead. May you have a splendid year, and many more to come.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dominique, Happy Birthday! I'm a bit ahead of you and love each birthday. I Think it is such an honor to have another one as so many people would love to be here that aren't. Wishing you a wonderful year. Hugs, Joyce

Elaine Keaton said...

Happy Belated Birthday!. I discovered your blog today and feel like I am a kindred spirit on s a similar path of discovery, " not young, not old, but present". I have a blog called Glen Arbor Breathing Space and although my "happy place" is on a different coast, actually it is Lake Michigan, which has become my ocean. I know there are many women and men that are also on this new slower path and that is why your message is so important. We must "become artisan"s like Frank Rich says in the New York Times today. I look forward to reading your book. E

Tree said...

Belated birthday wishes!

Just read your "Long Hair" piece in today's NYT. I'll add that a mature woman's long hair is threatening. It's a display of both femininity and self-determination growing stronger with age. Long gray hair may be the ultimate power symbol!

Warren said...

Thanks for remembering MEN in your essay about long hair. Yes, even now in my '60s it continues to captivate. And I grow jealous as mine disappears.

Women are luckier though. I seem to recall (badly) a Spanish proverb "When a woman changes her hair, she is changing men." It's amazing how often that saying rings true, when I inquire about the hair change/wack.

Men have fewer options. I've gone back to fly-fishing for steelhead. Hope blown sideways in today's spitting blow. Small eastern WA towns are clueless of the 1,000 mile miracle of fish returning. Silver in silver moving always upward. The hard way. Why do they do it? Why do they draw me awestruck? Why did I go to Lourdes to serve? Why oh why am I finding it just all so marvelous?

PS: Dad's still wreak havoc with their sons, "Are you going out dressed like that?!" still worked at 91. Ouch.

janfaw said...

Happy Belated Birthday,

Here where we live it's a rainy day which is welcome after weeks of endless, warm, beautiful autumn days. Welcome because it's almost 1pm and I am still in my pajamas with the excuse it's raining anyway! That gave me the opportunity to read your book "Around the House and in the Garden". I loved it so much. It made me wish I had fireplaces and a kitchen big enough for a couch, but though this would be nice, the real beauty of home is making it a secure place for life's experiences and for spreading love, which ours does. I am a single mom and have always said that I am glad I have my kids about 45 weeks of the year. The other weeks they are gone, but I am selfishly thankful that for the most part they are around me.

Funny, I found your blog just around your birthday. All the best wishes for this upcoming year.

Rob said...

I just read your piece on long hair & for the life of me I could not really understand why you care what 'they' think. I grew my hair long so could again have a pony tail while I still have the hair to do it!
I'm commenting on your birthday post because I think birthdays are special days. Very special when I was young, not so much in the middle years but in my late 50's that day is again taking on meaning. I am happy to see someone else enjoy their day too.

After reading your blogs a bit I realize that we do not live in the same world. Not at all with the first glance but with more reading and some reflection maybe we have the same world, just different parts of it... some parts of your world are familiar to me.
I do learn something new every day, usually it's something that I was mistaken about before but I think your world is a truly new thing to me.

Happy birthday and it's your hair, your life. Thank your Mom for your birthday then remind her it is your hair to grow long or cut short.
Being a parent I know that your mom will ignore what you have said but you'll feel better about it .

Siobhan said...

Happy Happy belated birthday to a fellow Libra. Mine birthday was Friday Oct. 22nd. We celebrated at with a fabulous Day of the Dead Party at the Tampa Museum of Art. Many long braided Frida's were parading around.
I read your "Long Hair" piece in NYTimes which got me thinking about how hair is so important to us. When I was little, I used to cry when my mother cut my hair. Now in my mid 50s, I feel blessed to have been born with great hair, even tough some other things are breaking down I can still count on my hair!
Blogging about art and gardening in Tampa Bay FL at www.wedigdoinit.com

m.e.w. said...

Happy birthday. Oct 19 is my birthday too -- 42. Your life inspires me.

Dominique said...

Warren, it sounds like fishing is bringing you peace and a great connection to your surroundings--and as you say, you are doing what you want to do! I cannot believe your father is still critical of clothes, but thank you for the preparation; I'm sure my mother will be the same way when she hits her 90s.

Elaine, Lake Michigan is truly one of the world's gorgeous bodies...I spent time at Interlochen and have happy memories of trips to the Michigan shore. And I still have some of my pataki stones (though that cannot be the right spelling...)