Sunday, May 10, 2009

Not Sailing

I cannot deny it, I have been thinking about cruising by sail once again. The facts are against any possibility of taking off on a sailboat in the near future but I cannot deny the thoughts that have filtered into my brain. My wife and I were discussing our Plan B in the event our parlous balancing act of income versus massive mortgage fails to stay balanced, and I got to remembering travels past. I wonder if perhaps moving back onto a boat, forced to abandon our pretty little canal side home would be so bad? Well, actually I think it would be. Nevertheless, faced with the requirement, we both know we could live on a boat again if we had to.My thoughts of cruising are fueled by the time of year; I know hurricane season is scarcely weeks away but this is when I like to be in the Bahamas, when the weather is warm and the waters are hot. This is the time of year the crowds have left and the islands are quiet. And even though a June hurricane is a possibility, early and late season storms tend to form in the Western Caribbean where the waters are warmer at those times of year. As you can tell I have given a fair bit of day dreaming time over to the notion of going sailing. The fact is, I have turned a corner. For the first time my itchy feet are quiet. I like my life, my wife, my job, my surroundings. What's not to like? I grant you cross country skiing is in short supply, mountain biking is feeble and river rafting is not possible, as there are no rivers down here, but for a tropical sloth like me, a day in the life of the Florida Keys is almost as good as a day afloat in the Great Exumas. Better, if you look at my wheels, under the sun at twenty four degrees North Latitude:
Smathers Beach is a pretty modest strand by Florida standards, but it does okay for the people who turn out to enjoy the sun, the shells, the coconut palms the breezes and the waters:Taking off sailing would be hard to do when the house is underwater, while my current boat is a fine but modest 14-foot skiff. One needs time and money and both are in short supply, times have changed since the carefree 1990's... Besides which I don't want to give up my job, my commute, my home and all the things that tie me down. I am looking forward to a second growing season in my garden, hopefully more productive as I learn from my mistakes and make some modifications pointed out by my more experienced friends (thanks Celia!). It used to be that I spent my time plotting and planning my escape, nowadays I am domesticated, aground in a world that somehow keeps my interest.A walk on the beach, a trip out to the swimming hole in the boat and I am always in awe of this place that I call home. I surprise myself by my domesticity after spending most of my life as a nomad. Stationary societies tend to look down on nomads with envy and suspicion all mixed together. A common complaint from Key West residents is of people living in vehicles on city streets, they want them moved along. I, obedient public servant set the wheels in motion,unable to stop myself thinking about all the miles I've covered, hobo-like, motorcycling through towns resistant to the beauty of a life lived "on the road."The village elders used to remind the youngsters of the fables of Aesop to pass on the collective wisdom, but as my friend William pointed out recently in a moment of insight, the collective wisdom has been supplanted by the electronic message of television and the Internet. Nowadays youngsters travel the electrons, not the highways, and nobody bothers to teach them the widsom of Aesop.It is their loss if they think the Internet could be as intimate a journey as a real road trip. We live our life in small increments. We work, we play, we move we vacation. Cruise ships come to Key West for a few hours and their residents "do Key West" between lunch and dinner, all they time they are allowed.I have spent the past two years making almost daily observations on these few islands with no end in sight. So here I am, a member of a fixed community, a reliable pendulum between home and work, and at last I like it.Horrors! I must be maturing.