Salty old sea hag

pearson ariel 26

An old woman passes by the waterfront on her bicycle. Colorful clothing, a heart flag hanging from her seat, a basket. Her aging terrier trots in tow, faithfully, ten feet behind her.

“Is that going to be me when I’m old?” I ask Scott.

He left his boat near Miami to return north by car, to square away business, before crossing the Gulf Stream. He has come to see me en route.

“I don’t see it,” he says.

“Well, then what do you see?”

He looks at me for a moment, and then out at the harbor. My boat is moored there quietly, next to the dilapidated pier. Patiently waiting for me to make a decision on what we will do next.

“I see you in an old boat. Inviting kids onboard and telling sea stories in a raspy voice. Feeding them sardines,” he says.

“Yeah!” I say. Getting into the vision now. “And I’m permanently hunched over from years spent on boats, sitting next to an oil lamp.”

“Right, and the boat is one of those boat’s that is completely set up but isn’t going anywhere. And everyone knows it’s not going anywhere.”

“It’s not going anywhere because it’s already been everywhere.”

“Exactly,” he says. “You both are retired. You and your boat.”

“Wow,” I say smiling to myself and wondering aloud. “I hope I’m on my way towards that.”

Soon the clouds ascend and I rush out of the car to row back to the boat and miss the rain. I leave a small pile of beach treasures in his car. The pointed claw of a horseshoe crab, a piece of coral, a tiny coconut husk. My oars cut through the water. I use my entire body to fight the current. My shoulders, elbows, chest. My feet brace the aft seat. The sound of oars in water, although so familiar at this point, always manage to instill in me a great sense of adventure.

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