Boat-life Conclusions

The boat came out of the water this weekend. We sailed it on Friday from its mooring to the harbour ’round the peninsula to be removed from the sea. The last sail of the season.

The broad expanse of sky above held the occasional fluffy cloud as we took off from the dock around one. Peapod, prideful in the way she can be when lugging the weight of the three of us with such ease, didn’t even seem tired after a season of daily trips and twice having a rebellious oarlock repaired. The conditions were perfect, or “favourable” as we decided to recount them as, pretending we were living in ages past where that sort of thing would be said with a pipe in one’s mouth while staring off into the distance. (We did, in fact, one day this summer, run into a boat-building friend on a bench on the street as he was smoking out of corncob pipe. Weeks later he trundled by for a visit just as we were headed inland for the day. He towed us along with the assistance his gasoline-powered motor gave him. A summer full of unique memories thats for sure.)

Aboard for the first time in weeks we were ready to go sailing. Pulling the mooring line, I eventually hauled it enough to give me some slack to inch it out of the chocks, the metal bracket simultaneously protecting the edge of the boat from rope burn and holding it in place and attempted to weasel the large rope free. The mizzen and jib sails having been liberated from their shackles by the captain and first mate, we were off, with the mizzen as perpendicular to the boat as possible, running with the wind.

We got far enough out of the harbour to pick up some real speed and finished unfurling the mainsail. With each of the sails out we managed to make it all the way around the peninsula with only one tack, or turn into more helpful wind. By the time we’d made it there the wind had switched directions and we eased into the harbour in under two hours. There were no sightings of sea life and no people lost overboard. All in all, a successful sail.

Sailing down Penobscot Bay

Sailing down Penobscot Bay

The next stage came days later when, in congruence with the schedule of the boat hauler, we were able to organize the crane to take off the mainmast, with “Crazy Ed” who sometimes forgets that he works for his clients and not the other way around. Though a boat transporting monopoly in an area named one of the top three in the world for sailing kind of means he can behave just about however he wants. It came just in time, too. After a quick jog to the ladies room, post-sail, I noticed the note on the harbour bathroom door telling of the imminent removal of the docks from the water.

Everything went smoothly with her complete removal – finished off with seeing her all tucked in and ready to head to her winter home. It felt rather full-circle for me: seeing her mast-less and naked with upturned mattresses and odds and ends dotting the cockpit. Just as I’d seen her first in the darkened shop upon my arrival in Maine.

All tucked in for her ride to her winter home

All tucked in for her ride to her winter home

What else has come full-circle in my life? I’m floating around housesitting gigs, attempting to piece together a recognizable quality of life. I do a lot more yoga, even beginning to teach, which is one of those things that is only actually possible when it’s happening in my own life. I write and reflect and spend time in nature. I’m even getting to the point in my tai chi practice where I’m able to think about the movement coming from my dan t’ien rather than wondering what the heck the person in front of me is doing with their left arm so that I can emulate it. Last night had me in a room with 30 other devotees, chanting variations of the name of the Divine in blissful union at my first Kirtan in months. Some things never change.

With the boat out of the water we plunge into winter time – time to see what this part of the cycle has for us this time around.

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Expansive Solitude

I always love washing my hands with running water that first time after returning to a world with modern plumbing. It could be anywhere. I could have stopped at a gas station on the way home. One of those real dives of a place with unisex bathrooms and their oddly diligent yet completely ineffectual cleaning schedules tacked up on the wall or on the back of the door. I could be at home, too, wherever it is that I’m hanging my hat at the time, and, with those eyes that see the spots on the mirror that I never seem to remember to clean off when the rest of place gets a good scrub, be taking in familiar sights. The latest hand towel hung on the rack. The as-yet empty toothbrush stand awaiting the flurry of unpacking. Familiar things.

Regardless of where it is that I find it, I’ll make my way to turning on a tap and water will pour forth. It’s a little bit of a miracle, isn’t it? Ok, it’s not a miracle. It’s plumbing. Yet it sure seems wondrous after a unit of time with buckets, ponds and plastic jugs. Not only running water but hot water that comes right out when called upon like some loyal servant, who is pleased most of all when the master of the house it pleased. Hot water that doesn’t demand being slugged from the lake by the bucket and sloshed into a pot to heat on the convenient propane stove (because, my goodness, imagine if we had to do it over a fire, too? Yes, there are gradients of ease in life.)

With the turn of a stainless steel mechanism I’ll have warm water gushing over my hands. Lathering up with soap I’ll squish it between every crevasse and fold, forming my knuckles into hooks and drowning my nails in the sudsy caves I’ve created I’ll allow the warmth of the water to increase until it’s almost too hot for my now gleaming, pink skin. Clean hands. What a nice treat.

A weekend camping in the mountains provided some pretty spectacular moments of peace and tranquility. At one point we’d all clambered into canoes and headed towards the swamp across the lake. The dock being about 20 feet from the cabin on the 1/8 acre parcel of land, it was easy for friends to bring theirs down as well from atop their truck, doubling the amount of vessels we then had for exploring and enabling the six of us to comfortably cross the water on a voyage.

With my canoe reaching the other side of lake I left my fellow shipmates on the shore with their makeshift bowline-knot tying lesson and made my way up the tree-lined path. I felt as though I had walked into another world. The relatively steep incline made my friend’s voices quickly fade as the wilderness around me took over. Stepping forward was as if each tree beckoned me forth. I felt this wave of something wash over me. What was it? Solitude? An uninhabited swath of land bigger than I’ve seen in months covering me in its own kind of consciousness – that which is devoid of human interference? It was at once heavy and light. The way a nestling cat might feel settling on my lap for a nap. Voices floated through the leaveless air, unable to be interpreted but used as only faint markings of any other sort of humans near.

Mentally I did a quick inventory of all the places I’ve lived and those that I’ve loved living in the most. It was with illogical surprise I realized that not only have I been happiest in relatively unoccupied land, but my times of greatest distress have been upon moving to more densely populated areas. How have I not put these facts together before? The mass of psychological comings and goings in the minds of others around me has already proven to be somewhat of a hindrance at times, yet I’d never before understood the complete and necessary experience of expansive solitude. Solitude that exists beyond the realm of a cozy chair and four walls or even of a single cup of tea enjoyed at a table for one. This kind of solitude must exist for miles around encompassing a view of pure and simple nature.

Shortly upon the discovery of this necessity I was over taken by the rest of the crew, the other boat having docked beside the first and its mates also coming up the path I’d followed. Ok, so I guess it doesn’t require absolute solitude for miles around. There can be a few other people around to still experience this feeling. This is good news since how often is it I get to stare at a tract of land knowing full well there aren’t a smattering of humans laced between the maples and pines?

This knowledge is good to learn about myself. That I need, not only time in solitude, but time in expansive solitude. For the times in between though, when a trip away isn’t possible or a building with a wall and peg for my hat is embossed within a concrete jungle, those times are when I’ll seek even the minutest space of escape that can be mine by letting my thoughts rest of the feeling of warm water rushing over my hands.

Gunpowder

“I wonder when the shooting will stop” is what I really meant, though saying if is perhaps slightly more appropriate in the long run. I am, after all, in America where a tattooed, leather-laden fellow shopper was packing a handgun in the grocery store. Yup, America. When will the shooting stop? Perhaps by nightfall or, at the very least, the end of hunting season. Wait, hunting season hasn’t officially even begun yet. It’s bow hunting right now. So what are all these gun shots? Maybe Wednesdays are practice days at the hunting lodge down through the woods towards the lake. Maybe the neighbours are doing whatever they please despite November 1st not yet having been passed by on the calendar. I wear bright orange when I go out. Even if it’s just to the garden. A few years ago a woman went out to hang laundry in her yard with white gloves on. Her children are now motherless and the guy got off. America.

There’s something different about being in a country that “gained” its freedom via revolution. I have images in my mind of a video I saw in High School Social Studies: Trudeau sitting peacefully yet appropriately aloofly with the Queen, signing some document that officially made Canada a country in a way we hadn’t been before. Trudeau with his teenager-like charm, suddenly off the hook from mum (avec hat), ready to grow up and be on his own. This image is startlingly different than the one I have in my mind of Americans fighting off Brits to defend their right to live in a country thousands of miles away from where it was being governed from.

What this is bound to mean for the average American is that war and violence is a little closer to home than what I’m used to. It’s hard to conceptualize a country founded on violence that continues to perpetrate said violence into the world. Then again it’s hard to listen to gun shots all day. I know they’re just doing target practice and I know my orange toque or vest will protect me, but I still hope that we’ll figure it out enough one day to not need guns around.

Comfortability

At nighttime my best ideas spring forth. They’ll be there, waiting under slippery folds of consciousness, emerging with flakey consistencies. The edges will slough off and I’ll lose them. Three words. I can remember three words. I won’t need to write them down. The morning’s light will dissolve them first into a twilight’s dimpled shade and then beyond as the clouds ebb and fade. Other words will come. When I’ve stopped worrying so much about the words coming I see it’s because words will continue to come. Brahman will not be satiated with merely triflings of words. He will create beyond ability to create and then create some more. Vishnu will affix the energy, once concentrated deeply in one time/space, as its dissolution by Siva will provide the energy needed to go beyond again.

And so. A dancing figure of bronze, wreathed in flame. A shellacked sand dollar gleaming from reflecting the light, which in turn reflects off the blurry clouds, seeping as they do with endless drips towards the earth. Feathers. Bones and shells. Cards forgotten and only half remembered anyway, refusing the ability to be placed into the warm, cozy space of remembrance.

A few lines of the fridge. A lack of omegas. But will their fulfillment take these places away? I press and shift morsels at lunch. Silver cutlery mixes with sterling. One of each in either hand I work them together in order to mash and delve into the conglomerations of food I’ve managed to procure. Procure how? By the energy of communication and relating. By visits and driving. By what I need to be in order to be a guest. Take stock. Notice what’s around me. Mimic and mime or courageously enter interior silence to externalize the expression I find therein.

I want to live in big broad stokes that, again, get wiped out along the canvas that we walk. I can see with giant eyes an arm that brandishes a wine glass and swipes away the thoughts of pushing morsels on plates the correct way rather than the impetuous way. I can see the nimbly footed elks graze the lands alongside. What do they do but behave in the only way that they understand how to? Mimicking the cars that drive alongside into dimensions of absurdity until they are the ones sitting in community eating situations, pushing food with silver formed to fit their hooves.

I push beyond. Beyond these elks, and moose too – but only through the signs that warn me of them after dark — beyond until there is something left to grasp onto that I knew once in a moment flitting by that didn’t really hold any permanence of meaning until now, now when there is something to move beyond.