For most of the past 34 years I was either up at 0500 and driving to the Bronx, or on the TS Empire State in the middle of the ocean with 600 cadets. In either case the drill was to get up in the morning, early and get out the door to complete the daily checkoff list. Mostly, the list was what ‘had’ to be done that day, not what I might have wanted to get done.
My check off list this morning was smaller, closer to home and could be checked-off anytime I felt like it. Hell, I could start the day anytime I wanted. It still starts a little after 0600.
Instead of dodging aggressive drivers this morning, I sat in my canoe on Walton Lake and pondered one of nature’s creations. Sailing downwind, with a bone in its teeth, came a leaf. It obviously had the right of way and wasn’t moving for me. Half the leaf was shaped like a sail, it reminded me of a Polynesian sea canoe, missing only an outrigger and the Polynesians. Despite its lack of crew, it seemed to sail perfectly. Nature’s own naval arch.
The breeze took me and the sailboat-leaf on a race. I had more sail area but the leaf was definitely lighter. Together we raced (drifted?) downwind, the sail on the leaf was trimmed perfectly for a long, off-wind reach. A little gust overtook us and the leaf heeled to the breeze and took the lead.
When I told people I was retiring and moving to Montana a common response was to ask if I would miss being on the water. Walton Lake isn’t the ocean but there’s still a feeling of contentment to being in a boat you built yourself on a lake near home.