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Share joy

Help! I want to know what brings you joy.
I write prose and poetry (scary!).
I’m collecting moments, experiences and meaning of joy.
I’m curious.
Will you tell me about a person, a place, a thing?
Maybe an activity, an event, an experience?
Does your joy radiate from the physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual?

Please share your joy with me.

I posted this to @MCP2016  Facebook group last March. The responses melted my heart, brought  tears to my eyes.  Thank you @MPC2016 for your contributions; your words and pictures are my cherished reminder of shared joy; I read it often 🙂

LL

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Captain Courageous and Superwoman

The Wild Thing idles into the small mirror-surfaced bay, dark evergreens, idling boats, fuel dock and seagulls reflected in twinned mirror images of a gentle blue morning sky. Waiting our turn to fuel up after fishing all night; sparkling, iridescent salmon, weighed and delivered.  Mickeys of rum and vodka resting on the bunk. A small paper bag […]

12743544_10154004762757952_1128718189862260359_nThe Wild Thing idles into the small mirror-surfaced bay, dark evergreens, idling boats, fuel dock and seagulls reflected in twinned mirror images of a gentle blue morning sky.

Waiting our turn to fuel up after fishing all night; sparkling, iridescent salmon, weighed and delivered.  Mickeys of rum and vodka resting on the bunk. A small paper bag holding my wages, 3 stacks of 100 bank-banded, fresh, crisp dollar bills, a few fifties and a couple hundreds, all the stray leftovers of cash from an almost full packer.

On the stove, cowboy coffee bubbling and a lovely little, fresh-caught breakfast jack spring in the oven, delicious aromas drifting around the cabin.  From the open window: mouth-watering scents of bacon sizzling and bread toasting, carried gently on the calm air, along with the damp salt smell of the sea.

Captain Courageous up in the flying bridge, low growl of jimmy diesel purring inside the cabin. Out the window, an 80-foot American yacht is tied at the fuel dock, side on. Our friend Les, tied at the perpendicular dock, bow facing us, stove pipe wisping a thin stream of smoke.

Les in the stern with the gas hose, waving, smiling, gesturing. “Come along side”, he calls, “you can tie up next to me.” “How did you do, how was it?” “great!” “good fishing!” “Let’s get together and play some music later.”

I’m looking forward to breakfast, getting off the boat, a shower and sleep. The weekend is here, no opening for 3 days. Time to do laundry, re-stock the grub, mend the net, tinker with the mechanics and hydrolics, whatever chores need doing… and then party-time!

I jump off the captain’s seat in the cabin, step over to the stove, oven mitt the coffee pot to a cooler section of the stovetop, bend over to unlatch the oven door. The scent of steaming fresh fish and coffee swirls around me, while through the window a tinge of gas-scent drifts in.

I glance up, savouring the double-vision of water, boats, dock and forest, meeting at beach-edge and reflecting the solemn unbroken dark green wall of fir, hemlock and spruce, rain-forest giants packed close together. My gaze idly drifts to the gas dock, wondering if it’s our turn for fueling.

What the hell!!!!!

The cabin roof bows inwards like the skin of a beaten drum, a woosh of air expelled and inhaled in cabin windows, my ears ring with the percussion. A kabooming echo half a second later. Shattering glass and pieces of wood hurtling at the front of the cabin, a ball of flame erupting from the dock in front of us. A frightening, terrible explosion of noise and chaos, fire racing and spreading across the water, over the dock planks, up the creosote-encrusted pilings of the fuel dock.

Raw gasoline still pouring into the disappeared stern of Les’s boat. The sides and stern blown apart, separating, the stern slowly sinking, the still-lit stove pipe gently tilting. Sides and stern are fiercely burning, crackling, hissing; flames of blue, red, and orange devouring, spreading, menacing. The fire, spreading out over the bay in concentric circles propelled by concussion, wafting black, oily smoke and soot, with here and there random items of debris: a shirt, a boot, a floating coffeepot, a musical instrument case.

But Les! where is Les?

No sign of Les, fire racing towards the Wild Thing, horror of recalling the stock of gas tanks, diesel tanks, oil drums and assorted flammables on the upper deck of the fuel dock, the fire reaching 15 feet up the piling and scorching the deck.

A greasy, oily head pops up amid the blazing waves 30 feet away. Captain Courageous bolts off the flying bridge, hurtles across the deck and jumps into the stern. Grasping the stern controls, he spins the wheel hard over, shifts into reverse and throttles up, plowing through the flaming chaos towards that disappeared head.

We see the head dive down, swim 3 feet, pop up again, still engulfed in flame and smoke. Wild Thing manoeuvers closer, shifts to neutral, drifts closer to the last sight of that bobbing head, submerged again, weakened.

Where is he? Surrounded by flame and smoke, hard to see, choking and gasping. We see Les’ head pop up once more, 2 feet away. we drift closer, he swims two struggling strokes toward us. Hang on! he grips the stern, drapes his arms over the side, too exhausted and breathless for more. We desperately hang on to his arms as Wild Thing shifts into forward and throttles carefully out of the blazing hell.

Les’ shocked eyes staring up at us, thankful, pleading, amazed. He’s weak, emotional, exhausted, maybe injured. He’s greasy and slippery and heavy and wet. Captain Courageous and I try to lift him into the stern. No can do.

“Grab him by the belt to lift him!” I crouch down on my knees on the deck, grip the side rail, lean out and grasp his belt. With all three of us together, we heave Les aboard. He’s gasping and panting, crying, “I couldn’t breathe in the flames, I thought I was done for, I thought I was going to die!”

Les’ shirt and sweater are melted or blown off his back from waist to shoulders, his dripping hair and lashes and brows singed, face death’s head white under a coating of soot. But he’s conscious and talking, laughing with relief and thankfulness.

Meanwhile, the American yacht has finally untied and motored rapidly away from the blazing explosive fuel dock, the dock master has shut off the gas hose, and brought out the fire extinguisher, layering smothering foam across the wooden deck.

A four man zodiac launches from the yacht, skimming towards us with three chaps aboard. “I’m a doctor,” one calls, “can I help?” They drift to the side, we help Les climb down into their craft, they zoom off back to the yacht.

The fuel dock piling is still blazing, fifteen foot flames licking and flaring up towards the fuel tank-laden upper deck. The lower dock still crackling and burning, the starboard cabin walls, deck and hull of Les’ boat sinking slowly, burned tie lines parting.

Engage hydrolics, switch on the deck hose, splatter and spray seawater over the burning pilings and decks of the fuel dock. The fire on the water is slowly burning out, random bits of debris floating gently towards the beach. Slowly, slowly the fire burns out and dies down, except for a blazing rim of flames along the shore.

We spot Les’ trombone case, floating triumphantly nearby, so Captain Courageous and Superwoman spring into action once more. Gaff hooking the handle of the music case, we haul it aboard. We climb up to the flying bridge, and cruise over to the yacht, now drifting just outside the bay. The doctor reports little damage, burst ear drum, some burns on the back, medivac has been summoned. We hand up the trombone case for Les, not knowing that it contains, along with his precious trombone, four thousand dollars from the cash buyer – enough to cover the season’s expenses. He’s lost his boat, his season but he’s alive.

I find a six-inch shard of glass shaped like a dagger beside Captain C. on the seat of the flying bridge. Lucky escape, it didn’t stab him or poke out his eye.

Wild Thing backs away from the yacht, ready to head around the corner, past the net shed, the engine shop, the ice plant and the grocery store in Namu, and further around to the fishing floats, where all our friends are tied up or just coming in.

As we slowly motor away, the yachtsmen stand along the port rail, fisted right hands raised, left hands clutching their balls. Message clear and unmistakeable.

Travel tales, Impulsive Adventures

This is a tale of my experiences exploring Edinburgh recently. Edinburgh castle is built on an extinct volcano with Edinburgh castle at the top.  The castle approach is called the Royal Mile (actually 1.6 miles) and extends to the bottom of the hill at Holyrood Palace, residence of Her Royal Majesty, Queen Elizabeth when she visits Scotland. The Queen hosts a garden party in May; an intimate affair, only 300 guests.

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Edinburgh Castle

The Palace of Holyroodhouse sits at the bottom of the Royal Mile. The Scottish parliament is across the street..

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Holyroodhouse side entrance

 

Here is a view of  the Radical Road climbing the Salisbury Cliffs, part of Holyrood Park, belonging to the Queen. The Radical Road was constructed using prison labor.

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A lovely crisp day in Edinburgh, I’d been doing the cobblestone shuffle, that dodge and weaver, up and down the Royal Mile two or three times already; it was 4:30, I’d been told it would take about 45 minutes to Arthur’s Seat, so why not?

This is the spontaneous, ill-prepared bit. I had half the things needed, like water in my bottle and a full battery charge on my phone. The time needed should have been doubled.  And then there was my late start, racing against the sunset.

Here are some shots of The Radical Road. What a wonderful couple hours with amazing views over Edinburgh, out to the ocean.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get to the top of Arthur’s Seat; something to look forward to next time.

 

I wouldn’t have gone to Scotland if not for MPC, MyPeakChallenge, so thank you all Peakers for the opportunity to be part of #BestGroupEver.

I love Scotland.  I felt at home there even before I landed, hearing the lilt and twang of my childhood voices.  My grandfather was born in Scotland in 1911.

I’d love to visit again; want to go?

I’m your momma

Swagger poem about motherhood. Add your own verse if you have one.

I’m your momma, I’m the boss.
 I can do the dishes, I can clean a fish

I can pluck a chicken, I can grant your wish.

I can mix cookies; I can bake bread.

Tuck you in at night, favorite stories read.

 
I drive you every place; I cheer you in your race.

I worship the dreams in your tiny little face.

 
I can grow a child. I tame your wild.

I coax you to try; I know the answer to “why”

I hug and kiss you, especially when you cry.

I smile tears and fears when we say goodbye.

 
I’m a master juggler –

I manage work and home

I control your destiny

I pay for you to roam

I give money, if you need a loan.

 
I’ll bandage your broken heart.

No doubt it’s come apart

I’ll dry your tears with love.

Your guardian angel, hovering above.

 
I can sew a costume, redecorate a room.

I can plant a garden so we can watch it bloom.

I weave the many strands of love with my magic loom.

and when you mess up, I’ll be your angry doom!

Even when you rant and rave,

I love you more than all.

Everything I had, I gave

to you, my darling doll.

 
I’m Your Momma!

 

Does he see?

Zippp and buckle;
I don my leather armour.
Ready to ride.
Shiny black and chrome, purring power.

An elderly gent materialized
out of that gas station perfume.
He asks me,

“Dear, can I take
you home?
You’re my
fantasy woman.”

Does he see
me
chase freedom
down the open road?

Maybe he sees curvaceous
country backroads
hiding mysterious shadows . . .

Does he see
me
rocket around corners,
that adrenaline throttle-twist?

Or does he see
me
weave and dodge
through rush hour traffic?
I’m in spin cycle now.

I wonder if he saw
me
grab my front
brake,
in gravel?

Did he see
me
fly over the handlebars,
and the mirror’s rib-cracking kiss?

Did he see
me
and my silver steed on
the ground in
a swirl of dust?

No, only a
blonde in black
leather.

Summer Moments

I am from rustic cabins and dusty tents

I am from multi-coloured campfire flames crackling in smoky swirls

I’m from crispy sooty hot dogs and gooey golden marshmallows

I am from mosquito bites and wasp stings, no-seeums and horse flies

From midnight skinny dipping amid eerie green waves of aurora borealis

I am from scorch-toasted white bread slathered with sticky red jam

From  hot chocolate  clutched in numb water-wrinkled fingers steaming into blue lips

I am from a clammy clinging  bathing suit and straggling hair dripping down

I am from tooth-rattling shivers and stretching full-length on sun-warmed sand

I am from coconut sunscreen and lemon-scented bug repellant

From potato salad and fried chicken and slippery juicy watermelon

I am from sweaty sleeping bags and soggy towels hung on tree branches oozing with pitch

From Coleman stoves and kerosene lanterns, flickering candles and ghost stories

From fly-specked outhouses with wilted toilet paper and ancient magazines with curling edges

I am from 15 cousins diving, swimming, canoeing, building rafts and sandcastles, racing over hard packed beach sand, laughing and crying, fighting and playing

I am from black and white photos of unidentified children in boxes of misty happy memories.

 

 

 

 

Biker Babes, Cycle Sistas, Wheely Wenches and assorted she-devils

I’m from motorcycles, from black leather chaps and gloves, I am from a yellow Savage, big thumper, single stroke Suzuki.

I’m from polished chrome wheels and studded black saddle bags strapped with braid and buckles.

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I’m from wind I’m face, bugs in my teeth, bandit bandanas, fringed black leather gloves, heavy riding boots.

I am from down-shifting for a corner, leaning  far far over, cracking the throttle to pull through the curve, synchronized  perfectly round the arc

From racing speckled pavement under the foot pegs, from weaving through traffic. From the broken-line highway, curvy quiet back roads, and spin city madness.

I am from adrenaline rushes and orgasmic excitement electrifying my body, catapulted forward, the Zen of the road.

I am from biker bashes, Angel Acres and Summer Stomps, from motorcycle shows, greasy oil-smelling swap meets and toy runs in the fall.

From dread of danger, threat of violence and the edge of imminent possibility!

I am from miles of road weary curves, from noise, vibration, numb butt, sore shoulders, aching hips, clenched fists, wobbly neck and ice-cream headache.

From an enduro ride, mesmerized by nightmarish highway lines repeating endlessly in my eyes.

I’m from sweltering, dusty roads, bikini topped beneath a gaping leather jacket, buckles and straps billowing in foreshortened shadow image alongside.

I’m from shimmering heat waves radiating up from melting pavement and my hot idling engine between my knees,

From front brake lever gripped, back brake foot stomped, left leg extended in tripod balance at stop signs, waiting for slow lazy traffic lights.

I am from biker babes, cycle sistas, and wheely wenches. From 1%ers, AFFA, devils and Angels.

skull head bike

Swaying, blasting, cruising, roaring, vibrating down the road on our metal steeds, brothers and sisters, wild and free, riding the edge of excitement!

I’m from late-start road trips, riding a mountain pass at midnight with ghostly deer in the headlights, from cattle guards carefully crossed, swim suits and snacks at hidden, deep blue lakes. From gas stops, and pit stops and roadside diners, stretching tired aching muscles.

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From loosened choking chin straps, helmet squashed hair, from unzipped chaps and heavy leather jackets, wind blown bandanas, and gritty gloves. From wrap around sunglasses concealing racoon eyes over wind-burned cheeks, watering eyes and ringing ears.

I’m from rib cracking handle bars. From front-brake in gravel twisting my wheel, jerking the handle bars hard to the left.  From a bucking metal bronco, tossing me head first into the swirling dust, me and my steed on the ground. Ouch!  Never front brake in gravel, big mistake.

I’m from hot tubs and too much liquor, blasting good fun with my sisters, happy road trips to Whistler, Tofino, Sooke and Cranbrook. Three sistas riding in formation, taking turns in the lead and sharing everything, especially laughter.  Remember the gas station perfume?

From marsh-scented, bug swarming, cool dips in the road.  From eye stabbing chrome reflections, from sensuous starlit night cruises vision narrowed to the headlight halo before me, from crotch rocket café racers at Starbucks,

From shivering though clover-scented fields abuzz with golden bees, from wind-whipped green valleys mysteriously shadowed.  From a herd of hostile cows blocking the highway, warily weaving through the evil looking horns lowered in menace.

I’m from birds startling up under your arm, from bee stings on the cheek,

From rain-soaked boots and gloves, cold fingers and toes. From quilted electric vest bathing my back and chest in glowing, comforting heat.

From soggy bandanas over my face, and from foggy rain-dotted glasses.  From sliding tires on slick pavement, an hour to go before shelter and rest, hang on and pray.

I’m in love with the power between my legs and thighs, caressing my crotch like a giant vibrator.  Riding is the most exciting thing I’ve ever done, aside from making love.

I’m from an elderly man admiring my leather clad figure at a rest stop, and asking, “Can I take you home, dear? You’re my fantasy woman.”

I’m from cold air blasting up my nose, pure fresh oxygen.  It smells of freedom and the open road, all cares left behind.

 

Otis salute

 

 

 

 

 

Trolling in mist

The black radar screen suddenly revealed a huge bright green blip to the south east, approaching rapidly across Queen Charlotte Sound.

Bored, and tired of hanging around at the BC Packers scow in Cascade Harbour waiting for the Fisheries to announce another gillnet opening, we’d decided to go trolling to make some extra money and get away from the float and boat parties. We’d been tied up for 2 days doing laundry, buying groceries and doing minor net mending and gear tying.

We untied the Wild Thing and headed out about 6 am, bound for the Yankee Bank and the Storm Islands.  The Pacific heaved in a slow, rolling, greasy, dull green ground swell;  patches of drifting, suffocating cold grey fog blanketed the invisible sky.  Visibility was down to 100 feet but we had our radar oscillating and our charts out and our depth sounder switched on, the smell of graphite heavy in the cabin air.

The radar screen on each rotation depicted a few small craft moving slowly three or four miles away, and the ghostly green outline of the receding shoreline mirroring the topographical marine chart.

.We were idling peacefully along over the deep slow swell with four lines of trolling gear set out.  I could just make out our white Styrofoam pigs on the outside lines, fifty feet behind the stern.  The 3 by 4 foot by three-inch thick pigs plowed through the sea attached to  the troll lines.  Acting like giant rectangular bobbers, they mark and suspend the descending  troll line.  They are

Trolling lines have paired marker beads every two and a half fathoms which are designed to hold the snaps in a set position.  Each snap consists of a flasher, a lure and a hook tied together by nylon line.  The flasher’s underwater action  imitates the action of a fish in distress, supposedly attracting notice and interest.

flasher2 - Copy
flasher - Copy fishing flashers

Below the snap and flasher are the lure and hook.  Lures can be rubbery hoochies of varied colours,  shiny brass or silver spoons, and small fish- or squid-shaped enticers for catching salmon.

The pigs dance and jerk if a big fish has taken a hook on one of the outside lines and is fighting to escape. Bells are mounted atop each trolling poll and ring as an occasional salmon strikes one of the inside lines.

We have two sets of girdies on each side of the stern; some professional trollers would have up to 3 spool or gurdies each side.  The lines are weighted with lead cannonballs to hold them down in the water, with all their dangling snaps or jewelry cutting through the ocean and hopefully attracting salmon.

I ran one side of gurdies and CC ran the other, his side had the boat controls-throttle, gear leaver and steering wheel.

We were trolling along the edge of the Yankee Bank an hour out of Cascade Harbour.  We’d just set out our lines, and had come into our warm, cozy cabin for a hot drink from the always steaming kettle on the oil stove.

It was foggy and cold on deck, even though it was the middle of August, with only about 100 feet of visibility around us.  I’d mixed us a couple of hot chocolates and placed some slices of bread on the top of the stove to toast, and the smell of food and drink was welcome.

CC flipped on the depth sounder to see if we could see any fish under us, and the radar was rotating around.  I bent over the radar screen to see our position and any navigation hazards near by.  I tensed, hands gripping the eye pieces.  Something big approaching rapidly straight towards us.  We, with 30 feet of trailing lines and gear strung out behind.  It would require careful turning to avoid tangling the lines.

I called out to CC to have a look.  He studied the plot of the huge green blip in the black oscillating screen.  Faster and faster,  closer and closer that large menacing blip approached.

We heard the deep-throated woogh of a fog horn from out of the fog, so close I jumped.  Was it a freighter, a cruise ship, a coastal ferry?  Ships of that tonnage can take up to 12 miles to stop and they don’t turn on a dime either, and this green menace was heading right for us.

There are navigation rules at sea, like rules of the road – pass port to port, do not pass in front of oncoming ships unless there is plenty of sea room, sailboats without power have the right of way, marking buoys have red or green lights to indicate if you are to pass on the port or starboard side to stay in the navigation channel.

I stared at that advancing, glowing green blip.  I was confused as to what heading the approaching ship was on; its course seemed erratic and I was unsure about which direction we should turn to stay out of its path.  The ship was so close!

Suddenly the blip disappeared completely from the radar screen and a horrible racket of fog horn and the low thrum of gigantic engines echoed eerily from the muffling damp fog.  We raced up the stairs and out on the deck, straining to pierce the swirling mist.

Just at the edge of vision, right beside up only 100 feet away, a rusty black-painted hull topped by a five-story building, wreathed and veiled in shrouds of fog coalesced in front of my horrified, terror-stricken eyes.

Heart pounding, held breathe, rigid with helplessness, the behemouth materialized in intermittent flashes.  Scattered stateroom windows and port holes glowed dim and ghostly far above.

We turned sharply from the threat, who cares about the gear! CC spun the stern wheel hard to port and throttle up that screaming jimmy diesel engine.  Our pigs were plowing deep, shedding green water, half buried.  The trailing lines  stretched and jerked, the pole-top bells jangling and ringing.

The ghost ship chugged and throbbed beside us, belting out its fog horn mourn on its Alaskan heading.  Rapidly disappearing in the enveloping fog, leaving me adrenaline-crazed and shakey, I adjourned to the cabin and added large tots of dark rum to our hot chocolate.

WE looked at each other and clinked mugs, smiling in relief, idling along and sipping.  We checked the radar screen – it was working again.  The ship had blocked out our signals.  Once finished our drinks, we pulled in the trolling lines, unsnapped the gear and layered them neatly in the trolling box.  We detached the sytrofoam pigs and lifted the cannon balls aboard.  I had caught 4 coho and 1 nice red spring of about 22 pounds.  CC had caught 3 coho and a white spring at about 16 pounds.  Our gear was fine, we’d made some money.  We’d avoided a collision at sea.  It was a good day for the Wild Thing, one I’ll never forget.  I can still recall the image of a black apartment building as sea, bearing down on us like some nightmare threat from hell.

 

3

In memory of

We’re at the government dock in Port Hardy in our red pickup, boxed groceries, duffle-bagged laundry and miscellaneous gear loaded in the back.  Three or four fisher folks, hitching a lift with their town stuff, sit in the box of the truck.   We back down the cedar-planked wharf head and park next to the hoist and the ramp.

We all jump out, staggering from four days and nights at sea, commercial salmon fishing.  We pile the freight at the top of the ramp that leads down to the fingers.  Of course, it’s extreme low tide!  Below, a small city of trollers, gillnetters and seiners are tied 3 or 4 deep along all the floating fingers.  The fishing fleet’s in for the weekend.

Seagulls are flapping and screeching across the small, kelpie bay beside the dock.  The mud flats are stinking, buried clams spurting here and there across the muddy, sandy beach; the smell of drying nets drifts up to us, along with a faint aroma of dead fish and someone’s cooking food.  We look down the 100 foot ramp tilting at a 45 degree angle to the floats below, and shrug.

We see fishing folks here and there, coming and going on the wharf head; pulling themselves up the steep ramp using handrails and braced feet on the string steps.  Below fishermen are clustered in scattered small groups among the floats; a few people are sitting in lawn chairs or perched on side rails aboard various boat, a few leaning out ship windows to chat to passersby.

The 100 foot ramp is made of 6 inch thick wooden planks and is divided into 2 lanes; the left side is made up of stringers, nailed every 16 inches apart, like a ladder with a solid back.  The right side is made up of weighty 6 X 8 smooth cedar planks of 12 or 15 foot lengths; aluminum handrails and cross-bracing enclose both lanes, each lane about 18 inches wide.

We jump out of the truck, lower the tail gate and everyone piles out to help stack boxes of supplies and duffel bags at the head of the ramp.  We align the duffel bags of clean laundry at the right side and push them over the edge.  The bags roll and flop and jounce down the smooth right side, safely landing at the bottom 100 feet below, where a group of people are waiting to climb up the ramp.  Many helping hands stack the bags to one side at the bottom, amid banter and bull and boisterous laughter .  It’s been a good week for most of us.

We pause to allow those below to bring laundry or garbage bags, or bits and pieces of machinery and electronics up the ramp, gripping and climbing the steeply pitched slope like heavily loaded mountaineers.

Our turn again, we line up our 6 boxes full of grub and supplies at the top of the ramp.  We’ve bought tins of food, baked goodies, fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, new rubber gloves, a box of band aids, a couple of novels, some bottles of booze and assorted other stuff, including a tiny potted boston fern, soon to be christened Harry in his new floating home.   The train of boxes all aligned, we shove them over with a gentle nudge and away they surf, down the smooth deck of right hand ramp.  Picking up speed, the front one hits a bump. All the stuff in the first box bounces up and settles back in the box but the speed bump dislodges the small pack of band aids, launching it 2 feet into the air where it pirouettes and somersaults into the box chugging and scooting along behind.  Bravo!

The rescue crew at the bottom applauds and begins stacking our boxes into the rusty red communal wharf wheel barrow.  Now, I grip the handrail and step carefully down to the first stringer on the left, wedging my heel hard on the step and leaning back against the force of gravity.  About half way down, after several precarious, heart-hammering, mountain-goat steps, I decide to ski down the rest of the ramp.  I step to the right, lean forward, bend my knees, release my death-grip on the handrail, raise my arms in the classic skier’s pose, and sail down the steep slippery boards, jumping to the deck at the end in a graceful dancing step, cowgirl boots thumping.

Behind me at the top of the ramp, Snuffy decides to surf-ski down the entire 100 feet of ramp.  He steps down on the right hand side and launches forward like a maniac Olympic skier, red curls and beard burning in fiery streaks behind him from the momentum of his sliding rush.  He jumps to the deck at the bottom and take a couple of running steps forward, his toes at the edge of the float, waving his arms and balancing precariously, and comes to a stop just before pitching head first overboard into the water.  A huge grin lights his face.  Darren, heading up the ramp, offers to move our truck off the wharf head and park it in the mud puddle-pocked long term lot.

Rusty red wheel barrow stacked high with our bags and boxes, we weave and wend our way over to the third finger, where Wild Thing is tied outside of 3 other boats.   On our way down the float, we see a 4X4 oil stove sitting on the deck, steel cooktop atilt, sides slightly bulged out, and oven door hanging by one hinge dangling off the front at a crazy angle.  Above the bedraggled stove, shouts of laughter echo out of the ** boat’s window, along with Will’s profusely ringletted, black-haired head, curls bouncing above his merry dark eyes and beaming red-face.  Several friends are gathered round the galley table inside, which sports an assortment of glasses and bottles.

“Yup, yup, blew the top right off her!”  Will exclaims, laughing and pointing at the forlorn oil stove on the dock.  “The chimney was plugged, so we decided to blow the soot out with a seal bomb.”  We’re invited aboard for a wee nip, where four or five fishermen are seated, and a couple are standing around the cabin, glowing with drink and laughter.

Chores first.  We hand bomb and hump our boxes and bags across the decks of three boats like obstacle course contestants caught up in a bizarre slow motion relay race. We clamber over hand rails, dance over deck clutter, dodge tie lines and guy wires all the while balancing on the rocking, rolling, swaying decks, to the accompaniment of a melody made up of snapping lines, flapping flags, calling gulls, and drifting music and voices.

We stow our grub in the fridge and the deck cooler.  Snuffy lifts the hatch cover and stuffs most of the meat in the ice in the hold.  We pour a drink, freshen up and grab a bottle of rum or vodka to add to the partying fun.

Back at Will’s boat, festivities truly launched on a sea of booze, we squeeze in the door with 6 or 8 other people. Will motions us over to the galley table and we sit down opposite him, crowded into the banquette seat.  Our bottle joins the party of soldiers on the table, more drinks are poured and we raise a few glasses in cheer.  The weekend  is here!

Will is describing his chimney cleaning method using the seal-bomb-in-stove technique; he gestures across the cabin, where the stove pipe is suspended from the ceiling attached to nothing but an empty hole where his oil stove used to sit.   Will is big and gentle and merry.  His dark eye sparkle with glee, and his big belly laugh comes chuckling up from his large chest.  His long, black, frizzy ringlets are bouncing across his forehead, neck and down over his ears as he laughs.

He brushes his unruly, frizzy curls out of his laughing, twinkling dark eyes again. “Time for a haircut!” he exclaims, spying a Bic lighter in the flotsam on the table.  A flick of the Bic and he brings the flame to his forehead frizz, to the curls just below his left ear, his right ear, and on around the back of his neck and head.  A blazing halo blooms and sizzles up the curls and ringlets, and flames around his grinning cherubic face.

“Yup, she’s done!” he says, and begins to pat and smother the flames with his big, calloused hands.  Not missing a beat, he grasps his whiskey glass, raises it in a toast and beams around the table at all of us.  We’re all sitting there with expressions of bemusement, disbelief, laughter and awe after witnessing the haircut performance.   And the laughter echoes again in my memory, as I recall some wonderful coastal characters and good times shared with friends.

H. Mearns photo- from face book post- I told you I was going to use it 😉