Now to why we have a tree in our living room.

Nigel, the tree, was once called Rufus. But as Rufus incessantly reminded us of the singer Wainwright, we thought seriously about whether or not we wanted a crooner adorned with pink lights gracing our living area. We didn’t, and it was decided to re-dub him Nigel. Still British (we are all Anglophiles here), but slightly more upstanding in connotation than Rufus. Particularly with the addition of the pink lights.

As to how Nigel nee Rufus became a part of the Alaska Baalke household, a story involving Claire is in order.

Claire-Elise Amanda Baalke came to live with us on Sunday, August 15. Since then our lives, that is, the lives of one Gabrielle and one John Baalke, have become ever more complex and ever more rewarded. The addition of a pink-lighted tree notwithstanding, we are now the coolest people in Pedro Bay simply because Claire lives with us. End of story.

But back to the tree.

Before he was Nigel, Nigel once grew along the shores of Sand Beach, here in Pedro Bay. One lovely afternoon, or early morning, or even evening, an industrious beaver gnawed on Nigel nee Rufus, stripped his bark, and left him for self-salvage along the orange reaches of our only sand beach. There he would surely have succumbed to the high-water mark had Claire (here you see the connection) not rescued him from lateral doom and propped him into the sand as a sort of mast, a standard if you will. Meanwhile Pedro Bay’s youth stood in wait for the volleyball net to arrive.

And there he (and the youth) may have remained had not John and Gabrielle found it within them to deliver the missing net and to discover our need for arbor in the home.

So there you have it. It was love at first sight for me and Nigel (nee Rufus) and he was in the bed of the truck heading back to the house mere minutes after the first volleyball landed in the lake.

But that, as they say, is a different story.