October 7, 2009
We need to leave when the weather is right for leaving.
I was thinking about this the afternoon before we left Eureka. A silver-haired fisherman named Ken had slowed his boat down while passing our boat and pointed out a dock on Indian Island. “That’s my dock. You can go for a walk on the island. There’s lots of deer.”
We decided to go for a quick walk before heading to the grocery store to load up on passage food. We couldn’t take long because in the morning the perfect weather window was opening up – one with flatish seas and almost no wind to strain our damaged rig. But the lure of Indian Island’s storied shores made us squeeze it in before shopping and readying the boat to go south.
Our walk was nice – we saw a red-bodied hawk, snowy egret and heard a deer. Then just as we were leaving, to rush to the store before it closed, Ken and his partner Linda invited us into their historic old cabin. The practical side of me wanted to get going – we had food to prepare, routes to program into the GPS and stuff to store away.
We followed Ken into his cabin and learned when it was built. All through the rooms were clever built-in cabinets, the sort of building modifications that always mark the homes of sailors and fishermen and ones that made me think of the books I needed to put away. He showed us old pictures and told us how Eureka had changed over the years. I wondered if San Francisco had changed since my last visit.
With each twist in the conversation my mind would slip off. I’ll make chicken stew for a passage dinner, with extra potatoes, I thought, as Ken began to walk us down the coast – describing each contour and harbour the way only a fisherman – who has seen every bay in every type of weather can describe. I thought about needing more ginger ale as he talked of storms. It tried to recall where I had stashed my hat and mitts while he told us about his garden – not because I didn’t want to hear, I wanted to hear.
I wanted to sit by candlelight, sipping wine and listening to his generous stories.
The desire to stay conflicted with our need to leave and we said goodbye. Ken gave us a jar of sparkling peach jam, for passage sandwiches, he said. Maia could make those while I cook, I thought.
We thanked Ken for his gifts – the jam and the stories.
And we prepared to leave.
In the first light of morning I looked back at Ken's dock and then I looked forward, toward our next destination, hoping for a gentle passage.