Friday, August 26, 2011

Turning the Corner

Hurricanes make you pay attention. Not in the cable tv drama, ooh our power might go out way, but in the holy shit way, like I could lose all my traps because I fish up in the rocks and coves where big storm surf crumples traps like pages of bad song lyrics. All my fall income, all my spring maintenance work.

Of course this was the week that my seemingly bulletproof ox of a winch picked to die. I thought it must just be my homemade wiring job or a switch that corroded. I checked all of those things with my handy tester thing. Not the problem. Then I opened the winch housing, a very sturdy metal affair with a fat rubber gasket. Made for salt water crab fishing. Only thing is- it's not remotely water proof. There was rust on everything and a translucent gray gel all over the motor that I later found out is what happens when aluminum gets lots of salt water on it. The winch insides were caked with bad looking trouble. I craftily took a motor off another winch, but it was about a quarter inch too long to fit in the space.

I tried coordinating with friends to help me move some traps and get them away from the shoreline and jaws of doom. They were all scrambling too, so after a lot of hawing and hemming, I decided to go out and haul, lengthen lines and catch a few lobsters without the hauler.

At least I had the outboard, which now didn't have to share the battery and solar panel with the winch. Except that something happened and the battery was half flat even though it had been charging unused for a week. I got a few jaunts out of it before I realized I was not moving.

Funny how quick we become dependent. I thought I had to go in because there was no winch and no motor. Eventually I realized that rowing and hauling by hand were not dealbreakers, but were exactly how I started the whole thing to begin with.

I haul and lengthen out a few traps, make a day's pay. Irene comes and goes.

A few nights later, I'm wearing a film plastic grocery bag hat over a layer of plastic wrap over a layer of mayonnaise on my head. One of the kids had some lice. This triggered a frantic household emergency management response of vaccuuming, bagging up clothes, bedding, pillows and stuffed animals and the mayonnaise treatment.

On this evening, it's just before 10 PM on a Monday and I'm washing up the dishes and surfaces from the mayonnaise intervention. Wildfire comes on, an AM radio hit I used to hear from the bunks my Dad built in the shed.

In the summer, we'd sleep out there, listen to sox games on the radio, news and pop songs. Then it hits me as I'm remembering the 2x4 I wrote my name and other sentiments on in the bunk- Dad had to build those bunks. One tiny project out of the thousands that Mom and Dad did for us. It is so easy to forget all those things.

It'll be easy for my daughters to forget the mayonnaise I plastered on their heads, the plastic wrap that went on top and the thousands of other efforts, often done through half awake eyes, veils of stress from a thousand other things, financial worries, agenda items.

Maybe it's just the plastic wrap around my brain making me sentimental. Thanks Mom and Dad.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Off Course and Loving It

After a great rocking show at the Maine Lobster Festival, I was hoping to get back out aboard Sweet Pea today. The wind forecast was for 5 to 10 knots. The actual wind arrives at 16 knots, so I'm off the boat for the day. My mind immediately shifts to: how do I get some slow-down? I've been hauling hard or flying, driving to and from performances for weeks and would like to just take up space for a day. Other plans are presented, so Ryan, Fiona and I set off for a very soulful old empty house off the beaten track on the island. It has an enormous chestnut tree that we like to climb and hang around in.

Before we get there, we're drawn to raspberries and end up picking a quart of them and going home with a pint or so.

The big mama chestnut tree is there waiting for us in the overgrown yard behind the farmhouse. We climb. Here's the thing: my fears are weaker these days, and I am having more fun. I took a spontaneous opportunity for a radio interview yesterday. Wouldn't have done that. Jumped into a songwriting contest. Wouldn't have done that. Went swimming in the river in Bowdoinham, reached out to others, taken some leaps. It's some middle aged peeling off of layers of intimidation. Or possibly, it's my bleached hair. In any case, I decide to climb as high as I can get in the tree. There are many points of vulnerability in climbing a big tree- gaps between good handholds, awkward places where I have to get around to the other side of the trunk, commitments that need to get made before the security of the next resting place. Even with all the zinging inside that comes from heights and climbing, I keep going and emerge from the upper part of the tree, higher than the chimney on the house.

After an hour or so of climbing, talking and daydreaming, we three decide to head off into the woods to see the cool old 1960's era Impala, Rambler and pickup truck decomposing in the forest, then come out behind Watkinson's and go up the road for a donut. We've done this ramble before so I was surprised how much it had grown in and how much the old cars had deteriorated since our last visit. We had many yards of head-high (on me) brambles to thrash through. We managed, and found some early blackberries along the way to spice up the earlier harvest.

I don't think we ever got more than a quarter mile from home, but it sure was a nice adventure; each part starting from an intention and going in some unexpected course.