Saturday, July 3, 2010


While living in California, I was fortunate to live near a harbor. Every night I would walk down to the harbor and listen to the riggings on the sail boats blow against the masts and the billowing sails. The rhythms were the same but each sail boat had its own tone depending upon the size of the mast. Like wind chimes of varying sizes they hypnotized you as you stood there leaning against the weathered railings, salty breeze in your face, sea gulls squawking and the creaking sound of the dock as people walked by.

There, one evening, in the midst of all these “yachts” I saw a tiny little twenty two foot sail boat with only one mast, that had most definitely seen better years. Not in a proper slip, no this little outcast was tied to the dock all by itself, and it was for sale. To this day, I cannot explain the “why” but I, who had never sailed in my life, purchased that tiny old sailboat with the name “Hootie” painted on the back, just as the sign said, “As is.” Every evening after work, I would go and sit, no longer standing, and listen to the orchestra, rocked by the waves coming in against the pilings and docks. I could now add the lapping sound of water to the symphony. On the weekends, I would go sleep on the boat, rocked as I was when I was a baby and the dampness of the ocean my quilt.

One night, the rocking became quite violent and almost tossed me out of my little bed. I jumped up, popped the hatch and stuck my head out like a little gopher coming out of its hole. I was greeted by other gopher heads who were wondering, like me, what “idiot” was going to fast in the harbor and was tossing us in his wake. Like vigilant gophers, our heads turned on swivels to identify the rude boater, none was to be found. Suddenly, all the gopher heads disappeared as yet another round of violent waves crashed into our boats and sent us sprawling below. You could hear the yelling throughout the dock area – “earthquake.”

Throughout the night, into the dawn, the aftershocks continued to rock my little shell, which was much more susceptible than the yachts. At daybreak, I left my cocoon and went home to see if there was any damage. Another strong aftershock rumbled sending a different kind of shock throughout my body and brain. This was harsh. There was no softness or rocking. Standing in a hardened environment, the power carried more fear, no lullaby could be sung to that movement. Gathering my things I scurried back to the harbor.

Some days, I think of little Hootie and her gentle rocking. I remember the symphony of the harbor. I remember closing the hatch and being rocked to sleep. I remember popping the hatch and drinking coffee while the sun rose. I remember the softness in the midst of an earthquake. And the arms of the sea, the water, call me home. Some day.