I left her sleeping soundly to go bail the boat. There had been a pour in the night, which knocked down the build up of waves over the past few days and the seas were calmed, tranquil in the dawn light. The sky was clear with promise as I wiped the due off my bicycle saddle and coasted down the road to the wharf. No one was up and about, the town still slept as the sun peaked over the horizon at the eastern end of Passamaquoddy Bay. There is freshness in the light at the beginning of the day, a rebirth in everything, an innocence, virginal.
I walked down the ramp to the finger dock and slid off my sandals. Straddling the bow, balancing on the breast hook, I reached under the forward thwart for the bailer and started the process, scoop after scoop. A lot of rain fell in the night and it took a while to dry her out.
I hadn’t meant to but the sea called and I placed the sweeps and rowed out the harbour. Everything felt good that morning, the stroke and glide, the forgiving current and the shags settled for once, watching me slide past their roosted float.
She woke and got up a little later putting on her housecoat. It was an old favourite from years past, a bit tattered, well loved. Ambling into the kitchen she found the note I left by the coffee pot. She smiled and ground the beans, pouring them into the percolator and then went out into the courtyard to have her first smoke of the day in the Adirondack chair.
I rowed the swing of the harbour and felt another turn was in order so I leaned into the oars and rounded it again…it felt good. There is such a feeling of grace when everything connects, the rhythm like a slow drum beat, the feel of the blades as they hit the water and the strength surging through muscles as I complete one full stroke and lean into the next, again and again. I stopped by the sailboat at her mooring to see how she faired the downpour, all scuppers clear and decks dry. Perhaps if the wind freshens we’ll take her for a shakedown later in the day. I sat for a moment in the cockpit, sometimes I do that, just to feel the boat beneath me rocking gently on the waves, looking across the water, letting time stand still.
A cormorant beating the surface with its wings as he took flight shook me from my revelry and I took to the oars once more and struck out toward shore.
She heard the coffee pot gurgle and went inside to pour a cup, spooning the sugar and cream as she likes, stirring ten times in one direction and ten to the opposite, a habit passed on from her mom. Settling back into the chair she lit another cigarette and lifted her mug for a sip when she noticed a loose thread dangling from her sleeve. Slowly, lazily she pressed the lit end of the cigarette into the attached end of the thread when a small gust of wind swept through the courtyard. The thread caught flame and spread like wildfire up her arm and across her chest. She screamed and dropped the coffee, smashing the mug on the flagstones. She bolted upright and shed the garment, dropping it to the ground.
When I cycled in the drive I stopped in amazement to see a completely nude woman doing a frantic two-step on top of the smouldering dressing gown.