09.20.2009 82 °F
But there's this one particular harbor
So far but yet so near
Where I see the days as they fade away
I have sailed from this one particular harbor countless times, often begging a tow beyond the jetty, as its mouth is against the prevailing winds. Being true to a love for the sea and true to all I know; most of which I taught myself, I prefer a craft without motor. Just the wind the sea and me. No roaring din or choking blue exhaust, no worries for fuel or oil, attuned to the breeze, my whole body a sensor. One can learn to judge wind, in its ebbs and gusts by the very hairs on one’s back, the cyclic waxing and waning of speed and direction is etched on the water for all too see. If one knows how.
They were voyages of fun, not discovery, yet nature can dish out a grand adventure when least expected. Such is the sea; the only constant is change; an ever restless journey with no destination. Horn Island was a pleasant beat to the southeast; roughly ten miles in a straight line, more like thirty in a twenty foot daysailer. Often with a friend, sometimes with an overbearing boss to whom I felt more captive than kin, we set out for those beaches at the Horse Shoe. It was a popular anchorage, offering no shelter, but deep water close in to shore. The stiff land breezes during the night kept the biting bugs in the marshes.
We’d pitch a tent in the shadow of a huge dune, sugar sand, festooned with prickle pear, rosemary and pines. Start a crackling fire of drift wood, smoke fresh caught mullet, eat, drink and swap lies. Then that damn boom box; here is where nature boy and city boy parted company. Why bring a damn radio to paradise? I believe it was our third trip when I accidentally dropped it over board. Being an honest sort, I bought him another, but he never brought it along on future trips. Thirty five bucks well spent.
If I could convey the feeling of a night sail in the moonlight, the majesty of the starts, the lightning flashes of fishes darting through the phosphorescence, air so sweet it intoxicates, I’d be the greatest author in history; greater than Shakespeare, Melville or Poe. They could not impart those images, nor can I. Those times are a part of me; a deeply seated joy I will never relinquish.
Moby Dick, Walter Anderson called it; I stood in his shoes, atop a huge dune along a narrow portion of the island. I’ve sat there lost, happily, as the sun dipped below the horizon painting the western sky with oranges, pinks, mauves and blues. The Mississippi Sound grew dark; turning to the east, the moon; full and bright would climb out of the Gulf of Mexico. Those sparkling waters shimmered, like hammered copper, cotton ball clouds scooted overhead, rushed along, intoxicated with that sweet air.
I am about to set sail again, this time not to return. Opportunity is knocking; I am answering. Despite all I love of this special place, these special people, this unique community; I feel the need to move on.
Nothing is certain, there is much to do and many bridges to cross, but I have decided.