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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Light in the Dark

View from my balcony           dee

From the bank of three large windows that span my living room, I have a 180 degree view of the Vineyard Sound.  My relationship to the water has gradually taken on an organic quality; I am falling in love. It started as I learned to watch the direction of the wind as it pushes the waves to shore. I can now judge the color of the sky by the color of the sea that serves as its mirror.  I keep an ear for the ululations of the gulls when the tide brings a fresh load of scallops, snails and conchs on which to dine. The tide brings its own rhythm; one that can be altered by no man. I like that. Constant, yet in a state of eternal flux, the waves roll in, never once delivering the same water, never once landing on the same shore and never once sweeping away the same sands. The waves outside my window are like the companionable breathing of a lifetime mate. There is a small part of you that strains to hear the soothing sound. The waves on Inkwell Beach sometimes barely make a fillip as they race to shore. Other times, they are so frothy and white that they break over the retaining sea wall that exists just forty feet or so from the foundation of my building.  While the action of the sea appears to take place where it beats along the shore, the real ride is miles off shore, where 22 to 40 foot waves will toss a 50 foot fishing boat around like a champagne cork. My eye can not pick up those heaving and pitching waves.  From where I stand, on the third floor of a condominium building with binoculars securely in hand, I can just make out two shipping vessels, fairly large, working way out against the backdrop of the horizon. I have been keeping a weather-eye on them for over two weeks. When clouds and fog roll in, they are completely obscured from view.  Fog tends to swallow everything in its path. It is always accompanied by the low doleful moan of the foghorn. However, on clear days, especially the coldest of the cold days, those ships are as easy to pick out as diamonds on black velvet. They seem to shuttle between an arc of about twenty degrees. Standing on my balcony, with my semi-circle view of the land and the sea, I observe the ships move between 2 and 4 o’clock everyday.  As I stand, warm, dry and relatively content on terra firma, I think about the men (maybe women) who are on those two boats. I derive some sort of satisfaction when I open my living room drapes at 5:30am to find the light of two distant, but glowing orbs along the horizon.  All day, as the vessels work the sea, I imagine them, chasing, catching, loading fish.  Daylight bathes them, making them easy to see. Then by 4:30 pm, the vessels are, once again, all aglow, light against darkness.  Their lights must be so bright so that the fishermen can work all night.  It is a round-the-clock operation so far as I can discern.  I find it a companionable kind of thing to know that, when I get up for a glass of water at 2 am, I can peel back the insulated living room drapes and see evidence of other souls awake right along with me. On an Island where 24-hour stores have yet to spring up, those fishermen are the next-best-thing to heading out to a Seven-11 for a cup of tea at 3 am. The distant lights of those boats at sea remind me that I am not quite as solitary as I think.  We are connected by the ocean, the sky and the heavens. Any day now, I expect they will set sail...and I will be alone once again.