Sunday, March 29, 2009

Snow flakes, Snow Geese,and Whipping Wind

The past week we've had flowers blooming on our trees and warm sunshine abundant. Old Man Winter, in a toddler tantrum similar to my granddaughter's, decided to show us who's boss this weekend with one last bout of winter ice and snow, just enough to kill all the daffodils that were cheerily swaying on warm breezes just 3 days ago. Unfortunately timed, this fit of his, with the only days off Tim and I were to have together on the boat. In spite of the fearful forecast projected for Saturday, we headed out to the marina Friday anyway, because a bad day on the boat is still better than a good day elsewhere. We were the only ones who challenged the weatherman's warning and after dinner in the marina clubhouse we spent a half hour bundled up in the cockpit enjoying the lack of human noise and the announcement by the local frog chorus that they had returned and were open for business. Morning came with the decision that Tim would head to Pittsburgh earlier than his planned Monday morning departure, to relieve his sister from hospital duty (their mom has been ensconced in the hospital for 2 weeks after a fall) and give her a much-needed rest. The decision of stay or go home for me was made rather easily. I figured if I was going to learn to live on a boat full-time, then I should expect to learn to live on a boat in cold, windy, icy, gray, nasty...well you get the idea...weather. Since it was too cold and wet to accomplish any of the boat projects I had on my to-do list, I spent the day puttering around the marina, building a wine rack for the clubhouse, a project I'd been putting off for some time, and chatting occasionaly with the marina office manager. Toward the end of her shift she asked if I was staying all night to which I answered yes. "All by yourself?" she asked. "Why would you do that? You're nuts!" I wondered about this myself as I braved the 35 knot wind and 40 degree temperatures to head back to the boat after my canned chicken soup dinner. I wondered why I was actually doing this when I had a perfectly warm house with a functioning fireplace just an hour and ten minutes away. Just then I rounded the corner at the end of our dock and found myself face to face with a great blue heron who hadn't heard me coming due to the howling of the wind and hadn't seen me due to the bulk of the houseboat moored at the corner slip. We eyed each other, he assessing the threat, me soaking in every detail of his perfect beauty before he would finally muster the strength to draw his 7 foot wing span into the heavy wind, leaving me with that prehistoric, garbling cry reminisent of his ancestors. I stood there for a moment longer, oblivious to the wind and snowflakes whipping around me, and said out loud "That's why."

For some, a boat is an end. For them it's about speed, or the latest model, or the race trophies, or the tinkering, or the horsepower. For me, the boat is the means. The boat gives me the excuse to be on the dock at the exact same time as the heron, or the sky full of snow geese, or the ball of fire sinking in the western sky. It gives me an excuse to curl up in the V-berth wrapped in the boat quilt and read a sailing yarn cover to cover without the guilt of undone laundry on the closet floor. "But the means to what?" you say. "All means have an end" The end for me is to sit in my rocker when I'm too feeble to sail any longer, and know that I experienced more than the three walls of my cubicle. And if doing that requires a rough weekend in freezing, icy, wind gusts, then bring it on, Old Man Winter!

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