Passing Acquaintance

This is the time of the year when people take stock of the year past. Wait: Don’t stop reading. I’m not going to subject you that kind of thing, to list various events and accomplishments that may have deep personal meaning but sound like small-minded crowing to someone else. Yes, our daughter did get off to a great start as a freshman in college, our son just passed his driving test, and Seaborn is getting good reviews, among many highlights of the past year. But I’ll stop there except to say that as the temperature plummets and the snow flies, my thoughts turn increasingly to sailing days past, future, and invented, as in the following story (which is one of the pieces I’m writing for my wife for Christmas):

 

Passing Acquaintance

  

You’re sitting in the cockpit, your arm draped over the coaming, as we sail toward Halftide Rock. You’re gazing past the moored boats toward the breakwater light and the beach and bluff beyond the channel. Our boat makes a cool sipping sound  as we slip through the water, the sail casting you in a half shadow. A tern flies by, peering down at the water, casually flapping its knife wings. Does it notice you dangling your hand in the water as you nod at the sky? The tern glances your way, feints toward the water in an acrobatic swoop, then flaps onward. We draw even with the rock and head into the open bay. I see you watching the tern on its course away from us. I ease the sheet. “Did you see it?” you say, settling lower on the warm cedar planks of the deck, the sun now full on you.  “That tern nodded at me as if it knew me.” “You think?” I say. “I know,” you say, closing your eyes and smiling.

 

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