A Welcomed Return of Spring

DSC00633-02

The sweet fragrant smell of spring blossoms lift the heavy weight of a long cold winter. As I feel the breeze carry that floral fragrance my shoulders lift and my chest opens. It is like I can feel my spirit shine through my shell of a body.

DSC00642-02

The gloomy skies and insistent rain were drowning my motivation. Though the rainy days here in Portland are not gone, we have been gifted momets of Sun. Now, my appreciation for the blue tinted sky is greater than before. Even if it is just a peek through the clouds.

DSC00630-02-01

Purple and yellow are speckled across the green like sprinkles on a cake.  Their presence announces spring despite the cold rain. My long lost friend has finally returned, and her voice is the chirping of birds. It is true absence does make the heart grow fonder, and I welcome you spring with open arms.

DSC00626-02

 

Longing for the Ocean

DSC08997-01

I grew up listening to the song of loss.  It sang the sound of crashing waves, the seagull’s call, and was sounded by my mother’s voice.  It was not a loss that overwhelmed her happiness, but the ocean was and always will be a part of her being.

FB_IMG_1488915587189
Photo by Jason Struhs

She moved to the high dessert, exploring the pines and red rock. A place of beauty, and worthy of pursuit.  The Rocky Mountains tower in the sky emanating a regal presence. They some how seem to be the royalty of nature.

Being raised in a place of such wonder made it difficult for me to understand her longing for the ocean. It seemed to pail in comparison to my mountains. I must confess I was dismissive when she would recall her times walking along the beach.

DSC08895-01

It was not till I truly met the ocean that I understood its true pull and power.  If the mountains are the Kings and Queens of nature, than the Ocean is a deity.  Alluring and persuasive.  Upon my introduction to the sea I gained understanding. I suddenly knew the power of its pull.  I was persuaded to be its loyal friend. The sound of moving water now forever echos in my ear, and it is an an echo that my mother and I share.

DSC09628-01

We now cherish the sand between our toes the same. If I need to be consoled because it has been too long since I’ve seen the Ocean her shoulder is there, and now I can truly be the shoulder I never was. An already close bond of mother and daughter has been strengthened by a mutual friend, the Big Blue.

 

Incased in Ice

dsc00429-01

I can hear the wind howl, announcing its presence as it pushes its way down river and through the masts.  The sound is more eerie than usual because despite its 40 mph gusts Moya, my sailboat stands still, for she is encased in ice.  It is an experience that makes me realize how much her sway has become a part of me.  With out her rocking in the wind I somehow feel empty.   As I walk around in the boat my steps feel solid ground, and each step is an echo reminding me that I have no desire to move back to land.

dsc00432-01

Each gust of wind begs for the trees, water, and boats to play. At the end of each gust a lull of loneliness hangs in the still air.   The brutal ice has bound its friends, trees, water, and sails.  In those moments of silence I can hear the stiff creaking of the dock, like old arthritic joints.

lrg_dsc00385-01

Inside the boat firelight comforts me.  It is odd how the flicker of a flame can sooth anxiety built from a storm, and I am not alone in this opinion.  Henry has placed himself in the best seat for a firelight view.

lrg_dsc00212-01

Observing his complete contentment I realize that I am also in a place of calm mind, I look to Sean cooking and reveling in the moment. We look at each other and without words we know that we are both in love with this life.

lrg_dsc00444-01

 

If it not for this life we wouldn’t know the true comfort of fire, we would not feel the bitter cold wind, and we would not have recognized the moment.  That beautiful moment of feeling awake.

Sunny Day Refletions

DSC00767-02

The sky is dreary and the temperature is crisp.  It is a combination that threatens to rain.  Finally I have some weather that inspires writing. It is quite the opposite of the sunny energetic days that I have been enjoying.  Not so long ago I could feel the sun warm my back, and a slight breeze pass through my hair.  It was an invitation for sailing that was difficult to refuse.

DSC03216-01

My favorite moment during the past sunny days is when I was readying Talon for a sail.  Just Talon and I having our own moment. The late afternoon sun harshly reflected off of the boat deck and its warmth radiated. Swallows playfully darted around and the geese lazily swam about.

As I grabbed each line running them port and starboard, I could feel my independence grow. My heart pumped self confidence through my bloodstreams. Next I grabbed the head sail halyard to hook up. I watched it swing observing its path. Committing to memory the way it traveled up the mast, strung through the pulley atop and made its way back down to my hand.

DSC03205-01

I continued with each step of set up purposeful and thoughtful.  It was a beautiful process.  There is something that bonds you to a boat when you know the path of each line and halyard.

The unavailing of the mainsail is the best part. It is the moment you give your boat permission to set off and fly.

My second favorite moment was when we took Talon out and the wind was full of gust. The funny thing is Sean and I went out with a lazy sail in mind.  Mother nature had other plans.

It was a bit painstaking to even get little ol’ Talon out of the slip. A strong east wind funneled in the harbor and just wanted to hold us in our slip. I watched boats on the river leaning hard as they played with the wind while Sean revved our champ of a motor.

He was able to pierce through the funneled wind strait backward, placing us in the slip across. Between the current below and the rushing wind it would have been a lost fight to turn. Sean gave the command as acting captain for me to hop off and catch the boat. I held the boat firmly as the wind traveled through me.  Sean also hopped off holding one of the mooring lines.  My stomach was dancing with butterflies and Sean could see my skeptic expression.  He chuckled with a shrug and said, “I’m figuring this out as I go,” and of course he did. Using the mooring lines we guided the boat  out of the slip bow pointed towards the exit.

Once we were out of the harbor and entered the Columbia the wind had more space to travel and was less forceful as a result.  With that being said it still had something to say and was not to be ignored. The wind was strong and playful, and many sailors were out to enjoy its delight.

Sean aimed us into the wind and I held the main halyard ready to hoist the sail.  The east wind beat the sail as I pulled on the halyard.  The whipping sound of the sail was furious, then in an instant was silent and calm.  Sean had steered us slightly off the wind and our sails were curved like a wings.

DSC07822-01

Just when all was set we were in a position to tack, it was our responsibility to avoid another boat.  Sean announced the command of “Ready About” Quickly and decisively we each did our part.  Changing direction and trimming the sails. It was perfection.

Yet again another tack was needed just prior to being able to settle. This time “Ready About” was announced mid turn.  Even quicker and more decisive I had to let out the port sheet, reel in the Starboard sheet, and trim the sail to a winged shape. This time we have a tack tight to the wind, a solid trajectory.  Talon begins to find his balance.  Sean held the tiller like a ballet balance bar. I can feel Sean’s uncertainty as he fought with the weathering of the boat.  Our balance starts moving from a cautious 15 degrees to 20, 25, 30, then 40 degrees.  Sean was dipping his dance partner, and in danger of dropping her.

DSC03244-01
“Let is out!” It was a commanding voice. Instinctively  I grabbed the main sheet and yanked it loose.  The reckless yet comforting sound of the boom swinging out dominated all other sounds.  Our lean flattened and provided us the time to re-trim and set ourselves.

This go around Sean lets Talon weather a bit and come back around to a beautiful 20 degrees.  It was this subtle and gentle dance.

DSC07910-01

I started the launch racked with nerves, and by this point instant decisions and reactions had purged all the butterflies that flew about in my stomach. I felt incredibly satisfied.  It may be a very small step towards being able to solo sail, but knowing I am capable to react quickly, and being comfortable in a solid balance of 20 degrees was much needed.

We spent many hours beating upwind and loving every minute. At the end we were exhausted.

DSC07945-01

 

During these sunny days I also had a least favorite moment, which will have to wait to be told next time.

 

A Seafaring Call

20160416_175608-01

I have felt the calling.  It comes in the sent of salty air, the touch of a sea breeze, and the comfort of a gentle rock.  Gulls fly about as if they are dancing with the sails. The call instills excitement, while simultaneously penetrating my gut with fear.

How could this call come to me? A person who fears the deep water, and it’s predators that live within. Yet clearly the wind of the Puget Sound blows my name.  It invites me to learn its mysteries and find myself. I sit on the bow and let the cool air embrace me.  Its a comfort.  I know that I will be safe.

20160408_113342-02

This is a call that cannot be ignored.  I would not dare disrespect the sea or the fates. I will answer this seafaring call and this means I have work to do.

The time has come for me to face my fears, again.  I shall not destroy my fears, but I must understand them.  Build a friendship, a partnership.  I hope that my fear will guide me to safety, and I learn to keep its petrifying effect at bay.

20160408_113337-02

The sails luff as the wind dies down, this is just another voice of the call.  The voice sounds reckless and the fear presses deeper into my stomach. I now find myself in doubt. I am not afraid of the moment for it is beautiful.  I am in fear of the future.  My fear is beyond the external.  Deep, suffocating cold water filled with creatures I do not understand.  The fear is deep within.  It is my ability.  Am I capable? Can I react fast enough in an emergency?  Can I learn how to catch the wind effectively? Will I ever keep Port Side and Starboard strait?  So, am I capable?

I ask the question internally, and I hold my gaze forward.  Watching the slight breeze ripple the sea’s surface.  The call is silent.  It is waiting for my answer.  The sea knows that I must be the one to answer.  I wait wanting it to reassure me, I want it to say “Yes you can do this.”  It remains silent.  The ball is in my court.  It is now my decision and no one else. Sean is not here to guide me, my fellow sailing friends are not here for support.  It is just me and myself. This decision is my own. I finally feel brave enough to answer.

20160416_175444-02

“Yes, I will answer the call.  Yes, I will learn the sails. Yes, I will become educated to build confidence. I will be strong in mind and physically. I will sail the seas and the oceans. ”

There, now I have answered the call.  I ask it to be patient.  Time to train body and sole. It is time I learn how to solo sail. I must gain the confidence in myself.

I will be capable.

My Aimless Wander

Photo by Sean Knighton
Photo by Sean Knighton

I listened today to a radio report about the lost art of aimless wandering. It recalled a time pre-digital, a time when it was common to walk just because. This was an act to help digestion after a meal and insight inspiration.  There was no special destination, there was no expectation.

This evening after my long drive home from work I decided to enact this romantic idea of aimless wandering. I gathered my dog and in a way let them choose my course.  Typically I have a plan, a route in my mind, but not tonight.

Henry led the way like a fish at the end of the line. Zigzagging curious about all the smells the world has to offer, and Luna gently followed.

The movement cleared my mind and brought me in the moment. It is a joy to receive the opportunity to be in the now, for the senses are more aware. I could feel the warm air touch my skin,  smell the subtle ocean breeze that managed its way to Portland, and hear the layers of silence.

As we walked along the docks I found myself enchanted by the surrounding water. It was still and showed the reflections of the boats, as if to reveal their souls. At night when the water is still it looks like a rich thick black. It gave me the chills because I felt if I were to fall in I would vanish in the merk.

Photo by Sean Knighton
Photo by Sean Knighton

My thought of the deep was interrupted by the splash of a near by fish. In fact it was so near that the water landed on my ankles, and feet. I jumped back and maybe even squealed a little. Henry lunged forward reaching his nose to the water. I found myself laughing aloud cutting through the quiet air.  That fish truly startled me. I had not realized how quickly I went from hyper reality to imagining myself disappearing into the abyss.

The rest of my journey home was peaceful. My mind relaxed and I was able to digest the day.

I suppose I should end this entry for a loud echoing ring of a metal water bowl has been sounded. It is the demand of a thirsty Henry. So I will leave on this note. An aimless wander is the perfect conclusion for a long day.

Photo by Sean Knighton
Photo by Sean Knighton

A Hot Days Gift

It has been a hot and oppressive heat, and Oregonians are not pleased.  The gloom in the sky with an evening summer shower has been greatly missed. There is something wonderful about wearing a cozy sweater yet also providing your feet with the liberation of flip flops. Instead we are all wearing as little of clothing allowed by societies standards.

At the dock that standard loosens.  The men take off their shirts and we are all guilty of lounging in our cabins with only our underwear.

The lack of air conditioning gives us the opportunity to be creative.  Sean embraced his inner MacGyver and created a swamp cooler with a hose, a scrap of canvas, four bungee cords, and a little wind. Sadly the wind has often been absent.

Another common method to keep cool is the age old technique of using a tarp. As much as this is an effective method of keeping the cabin significantly cooler the tarps are like shackles. No longer can we just untie the lines and go. Now we have to disassemble, store, and reassemble at our return.

DSC05578

The view of a sailboat covered in tarps fully expresses this shackled feeling. As humans, we often cover items we no longer use, like old vintage cars. We keep them with us, we keep them bound.

 

I must say though, one beautiful thing that the oppressive daylight has given us is the perfect temperature for a night sail.

11828775_449523005219881_8051706959130548111_n

Once we finally overcome our laziness and remove the shackles that are the tarps I feel that I can finally stretch.  I can’t help but to walk on the bow, for now nothing blocks me. I see Moya as I should.

night sail BW-1

Night sails are never planned.  They are only built from spontaneity, and always have room for company.

Sailing is always a pleasure, but I LOVE night sailing for the river belongs to only us, and the sound of the water is more noticed. The water turns from a blue brown to layers of indigo and an abyssal black. The tips of the waves catch the silver starlight and the moon dominates the night sky as if inviting us to play. The breeze passes through Moya’s sails which casts a spell of forgetfulness, for the long hot days become barely a memory.  Everyones warm heavy faces lighten and turn to smiles.

12642467_1203177409695874_7419735733650513693_n

So when it is hot and oppressive I must remind myself to remove the shackles and embrace the hot days gift.  The perfect temperature for a night sail.

night sail BW-2