Great Expectations


Boatyards are seasonally driven, although by the calendar rather than the vagaries of the weather.  They may appear dormant, but already repairs are being made, and the various equipment like cranes and hoists being serviced and checked.  Soon they will be laying out all these buoys to mark the anchorage of fleets of pleasure craft that suddenly fill the harbor as in older days spring floods filled with log jams from clear-cut forests.

People with enough money to own expensive craft have their own peculiarities.  One of them, as far as I can tell from casual observation, is that they demand immediate use of their craft at first sign of warmth, as if it were medicine to cure their hypochondriac cabin fever.  Then they often seem to let their boats rest unused the rest of the spring and summer until they insist on one final fling as the last warmth fades from the autumn.  Of course, a lot of us are like that, who hasn’t rushed off to the beach as soon as there was a warm or hot day, and then been too busy to spend any time there until the next year?

Sand, dock, and cove as free of people and their objects as they ever will be.  The water is amazingly clear and transparent.  Migrating waterfowl seem a bit delayed, and I think the local overwinterers have been thinned out a bit by the brutal cold.  It’s too early yet to say that everything is ready to leap toward growth, but the icy hand of death and dormancy seems to be lifting.

I doubt any of our surface doings mean much to those creatures living beneath the surface.  Oysters, clams, worms, fish, eels, horseshoe crabs and other denizens of the shallows go about their business oblivious to what happens above, except for maybe the lengthening of days, which somehow suggests to them the necessary reproduction cycles.  Countless microscopic life cares even less.  Since I am not one of those fellow inhabitants of our biosphere, I can waste time hoping for warmer weather soon.

Much warmer day, many varieties of birds singing strongly over the percussion of the woodpeckers.  Snow on south-facing slopes is vanishing rapidly.  I fondly bid these fragments of harbor ice goodbye, as they float out with the tide. 

Unfortunately, with the better weather, construction and yard crews also come out of hibernation, and already there is competition for who can be loudest.  These days it seems that to get anything done requires power tools, and to prove you are actually doing something important it must be the noisiest piece of crap ever invented.  Since everything has been professionalized and turned over to third parties, instead of all the lawns being cut and leafs blown and whatnot on Saturday, as I remember from my wee youth, it is a constant round of activity from dawn to dusk, every day.  I half suspect that soon it will be edging into the nighttime with LED illumination.  Ah, anyway, still happy to have the first intimations of the coming seasons.

A flicker of green leaves _ probably a plantain _ revealed nestled in leaves as snow finally departs for a while. 
I can only hope that it is not destroyed by the 19 degree temperatures today.  Anyway, weeds are immensely hardy, as anyone trying to get rid of them finds out quickly.  Weeds are the very definition of hardiness. Like cockroaches, they’ll be here after we are gone, if anything is.

There are tiny signs everywhere now.  Reddish swellings indicate buds on the wild roses and other briars, an almost imagined blush of crimson haloes some of the trees.  Grass which is absolutely desiccated brown when uncovered one day suddenly sprouts emerald highlights overnight.  And of course the birds are in full courtship mode, males chasing desired mates all over the water, singing to attract attention, even starting on nests.  Hang on _ if you’ve made it through this far towards next summer, you’re within sight of the finish line!

Sat –

Old camera at low resolution setting cannot pick up whitecaps on the harbor, but they are there, flitting along the crests of the waves.  It is some indication of the fury of the northwest wind that there are such waves at all in a totally protected area.  This is a good idea of why photographs lie with incompleteness _ this could have happened almost any time of year, but happened to be in a near zero wind chill which made walking around a bit of an adventure.

The ducks don’t seem upset at all.  And there we have two anthropomorphisms already _ and conventional ones at that.  Wind has no “fury”, ducks don’t get upset.  Yet we find it useful to so describe the world, even knowing that we are using a kind of lie to do so.  Falsehoods everywhere! 


Sat –

Old “Painkiller” looks to be a casualty of the wind.  Either the mooring pulled loose or a rope snapped, presumably the damage, if any, is minimal.  An unhappy surprise for the owner, when he or she comes by, no doubt.  Surely there is more damage around, less visible on the surface.

No matter how shipshape we keep our boats, or build up our bulkheads, or prettify our waterfront, the cosmic certainty of entropy keeps intruding and trying to turn concrete to dust, or pulverize boats.  It things are not maintained, they automatically become ruins sooner or later.  Old grumps like me would add that with the lousy way they build most things lately, that day is likely to be sooner.

Sun –

Looking down and out over this end of the harbor _ it may be hard to see in a tiny picture _ are countless spherical white buoys now being set everywhere by barge and winch in anticipation of the rush of pleasure boats that will soon be cascading in as quickly as spring rains.  A surprisingly careful placement is involved, as the tides go up and down more or less changing the length of the chains mooring them to the bottom. Spacing must allow tethered craft of various sizes to drift around in eccentric uncoordinated motions depending on the random pull of tides and push of winds.

At this time of year, I always think of these as “boat seeds” that will soon sprout larger aquatic inorganic flowers.  Some will be beautiful, some will be ugly, and all will be vanish once again come the cold gales of November. 

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