Night Sail, Tampa Bay to Key West, June 29, 2012
Today is one of those I’d like to put in my pocket. There are precious few such perfect days, and you want to somehow capture them, to take out someday, maybe when you’re feeling sad or nostalgic, and relive. Or watch like a movie. I have been trying to figure out how I can keep these perfect days. I try to memorize some small detail that I can pull up later, like a clue for my memory, so it can play back, filling in the rest. One such day was the day I brought Sarah home from the hospital, another was Sam’s second birthday trip to the zoo. Our day at the little half-moon beach in Red Shanks anchorage near Crab Key (near George Town, Bahamas) qualifies, and so does today.
If you could put together the perfect day, what would it hold? For me, it means spending time with the people I love, doing the things I love to do, and the promise of the fulfillment of all my dreams. It is not, mind you, necessarily an easy day without challenges. Work and frustration have their place in the perfect day, to act as a foil for the smooth and joyful parts.
Today started with my night watch. We were motor-sailing across the Gulf of Mexico on the way to Key West. It has been what we call a “blessedly boring” trip so far. I star-gazed at midnight and stared at the moon in wonder through the awesome binocs that Jay got for my birthday a couple of years ago. Even on a moving boat, you can see craters clearly. I read my book and had a cup of coffee and wrote in the quiet as we glided over the surface of a very still sea. At three in the morning, I watched the glowing orange moon set over inky water while listening to Kat Edmonson’s “Lucky” and I felt lucky indeed. How many people got to see that this morning? I made Jay some coffee and went to bed as he took over in the “hot seat.”
I woke at seven to see the newly-risen sun in a huge blue sky and had cups of steaming tea with the kids, read aloud for a while and held a slightly feverish and very snuggly, teething baby. We did a little laundry, a few dishes, then caught Sargasso weeds in our nets and examined the critters that live in those amazing microcosms. Some dolphins came up to the boat to say hello before returning to their fishing spot. I took Rachel with me to nurse in my cabin and we had a little snooze and I read my book some more. Then there was lunch in the cockpit and more reading aloud. By this time, the day was very hot and people were beginning to feel a little irritable. I suggested a swim, and Jay thought we could give it a try. We turned the engine off and let Take Two drift. Jay checked the oil in the Starboard Colonel while I looked in the water for jellyfish (there weren’t any). We shed all our clothes and had the most wonderfully refreshing skinny dip in ten fathoms of clear, turquoise water, out of sight of land, feeling like we had established our own little watery Garden of Eden and frolicked in it. Then everyone had a nap, with Jay taking a watch on deck in the shade with his book.
After my nap, I took the helm and let Jay sleep for a while. I love boring passages because they reduce life to the barest essentials (eat, breathe, sleep) and then add heaps of time. You can’t possibly fill it all, so you spend it just enjoying life where you are and the people around you, thinking long thoughts and feeling grateful to be alive on planet earth. So I did that for a couple of hours before dinner. Then Jay grilled steaks we had pulled out of the freezer this morning and I made baked potatoes in the pressure cooker (30 minutes!) and sautéed some asparagus and garlic in olive oil and butter. I haven’t been to the store in ten days, and we’re still eating like kings! After dinner, we sipped the last of the wine given to us by friends on s/v Circa Trova (thank you) while watching the red sun melt slowly into a glassy sea while the sky turned the most lovely shade of lavender and the line between sea and sky disappeared into a fine, soft mist. The children watched old cartoons and I made coffee for my watch while listening to the happy giggles of my favorite people in the world. We sent them off to bed and enjoyed a little marital bliss (like two ships colliding in the night) before Jay went to sleep and I took the first watch. I showered on deck (what lovely freedom!) and then took the helm just as the breeze shifted and increased, allowing me to set the jib for a cool and comfortable night sail. As I sat down with my coffee, Kat’s “Lucky” song came on the XM station again and bookended my day.
Lucky, lucky me! I honestly couldn’t invent a better day than that.
We went ashore once in the Exumas and I met a local who asked all sorts of questions (a pregnant woman on a boat with four children always attracts curious locals). I said we were there to enjoy their lovely islands and beautiful weather, to which he responded, “Store it up!” I liked that. Store it up for a rainy day. Store it up for when the kids are grown and you’ve got the empty-nest blues. Store it up for flat tires, head colds, and stubbed toes. That’s what we’re doing. Storing up days like today to take out later and remind ourselves how incredibly fortunate we are to have had them—to be thankful to the Maker for the gift of a perfect day in an imperfect world, in the middle of an imperfect life.