Today, happily, is my birthday – “happily” because, as my grandmother always said, “having one more is better than not.” And “happily” because I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be than where I am right now. And if that is not a statement of Existential Bliss, I don’t know what is.
We had storm after storm after storm through the night, and it was wonderful. There’s nothing so nice as having thunder rolling and lightning flashing and the ocean heaving…outside your windows, as you lie firm and solid upon dry land. We woke this morning to bright blue skies and what I believe they call a “freshening breeze”…and this lasted for a lovely quarter-hour when it was abruptly, quickly, and without warning replaced by a pea soup fog. Fortunately, our freshening breeze put paid to the fog – it wearied of the fight and took itself off down the coast.
We celebrated all of it, my birthday, the fog, the storms, and the bright blue sky by taking out a pair of kayaks for a lovely long paddle. All week there’s been a mysterious and very large sailboat anchored in the bay; it took its leave this morning, but before it did, I was able to get some information about it. This boat is large. And I mean…gigantic. The schooner Eastwind, a windjammer that comfortably accommodates 30 people on an afternoon cruise, passed it at anchor on the way out of the harbor and looked like a toy next to this monster, both in terms of length and height. I found out that the Monster Ship is the “Christopher,” a racing ketch from Britain in town still from the recent Shipyard Cup, and it is 150 feet long. Quite that in height, too. I would have loved to see her under sail, but alas, she pulled out of the harbor by motor. I can’t blame her sailors – I’m sure it is an impressive task to get the rigging and sails up, but likely an extremely tiresome chore to get them stowed again later.
The wind offered some interesting challenges for kayaking, especially out towards the mouth of the harbor. This harbor is extremely protected and typically features very quiet seas. Today, with the wind picking up, it offered large swells instead. One has to keep the hips loose and continue to paddle with as regular a rhythm as possible – the paddles then function as a type of outrigger, and stabilize the craft – but this is a bit of a challenge when the ocean isn’t where you think it will be, and when the swells are rolling you along. Once again, I found the horseback riding to come in very handy – the rolling swells reminded me a lot of Huey, the warmblood I’ve been riding lately, who has a gigantic motion to his walk and a very large barrel. And the answer to keeping my seat on both was the same: stay nice and loose in the hips, let everything below the waist absorb the motion, and keep on keeping on.
A lunch, a fix of my deadly sin (the bubble gum ice cream), and the purchase of a white cotton sweater with anchors knit in across the chest (my husband said, when I showed it to him in the store, “What, do you mean you don’t already own one of those? You should buy it now.”) I’m ready to face the afternoon Sunset Promenade.
The breeze has moved beyond “freshening” into a state that I’d consider “stiff”. The big swells of yesterday have been replaced by a pattern of whitecaps today. The wind is pouring into our room on one end and exiting, unchecked, on the other. I found that today, when I close the bathroom door, the entire room begins to make the musical hooting sound of someone blowing over the top of a bottle. I wish I were superstitious enough to conjure up the romance of a ghost, but since it only started doing this with the wind today, I must regretfully conclude that this is a matter of physics.
Outside the window, the seagulls are hanging in the sky and look like they are flying on a string like a kite. A woman has plumped her toddler down in the rocks across the road for an informal family photo shoot, but the child is fascinated by the birds that are hanging overhead. The schooner has gone rocking across the mouth of the harbor in the distance. The water is an inky blue that throws the white foam of laughter at the sky. The kid next door has drawn Dinghy Washing Duty and is competing with the ocean on the matter of producing spray.
And today, for the first time since we arrived, the Ram Island light is silent. The fog and the humidity are defeated by this breeze. If only I’d thought to pack clothing that is both dressy and warm, rather than only one – it looks, as a result, that my new anchor sweater will be launched on its maiden voyage for dinner tonight.