Sunday, August 28, 2011

Familiar Footing

Arrived to the gin-clear water of a quiet medium-sized New Hampshire lake.  The Orvis jacket has lived there longer than I can remember.  A pair of LL Bean mocs, flip-flops, and boat shoes are the only footwear I take.  The Bean mocs are useless on wet wooden stairs and logs, but brilliant on granite faces of enormous rocks.  At quarter to six in the morning, young Jr. awoke with the declaration that it was time to "make something".  "The only hardwood we have is firewood" I told him.
"Okay, we'll use that!"
"Uhh... Okay. We can do that."
The woodshop is where many generations have crafted the replacement planks for docks and buildings, forged iron hinges, repaired caned seats, and every manner of repair imaginable, often completed to unnecessarily fine detail.

Small lads can cut a line steadier than one expects when using a coping saw.  A pencil line makes a good guide.  The gratification of a rasp, a file, and a few planers comes easily to new woodworkers.

Young hands learn the joy of concentration and the pleasure in craft of using hand tools. Chisels and a club mallet make a straight line, even though they were new to him.

 Fitting the mallet head and driving the wedge in elicit young smiles and reward the patient planing and (well-supervised) chiseling.

A rag of Minwax and the summer sun cure the creation.  Here, it rests on the bench we made in ten minutes using a bow saw and a hand auger.  The mallet spent hours cracking acorns, smashing ants, "cidering" crab apples, and pulping weeds.
A sail towards the swimming island where we anchor astern and tie the bow ashore to jump off the high sheer rocks, my bare nancy feet griping about the granite during the first two days.

Mumma and Papa Loon teach their two young how to fish and swim.  We had the same plan.

A grapnel for throwing to shore trees, a mushroom for mud and muck, a Navy for sand and rock, and two Danforth styles for sand and gravel.  With these in the hold, we can land in any of the lake-bottom's personalities.

Spliced eyes and toggles are a project to pass time, but are indispensable for large coils of line, rolled towels, hanging picnic bags, and nearly anything else.

Water sparkles with sunlight from lunch until sunset, and on the VERY rare morning when the water is not glass-smooth, Jr. and I enjoy the opportunity for a six o'clock sail in the rainy gusts while others sleep.

One never outgrows a love for water, and a restless thumping in the chest propels adults of all ages to climb to the top of the granite edge and leap into the clear deep, feeling the water in the nose and bubbles past the face that haven't changed since the first life-vested panic-filled jump as a tot.  I use the same words of encouragement this year for mine (from the lower ledge) and the giggle is distinct when the heads surface, gasping with surprise and relief.  Boys and girls of summer.  They are full steam until the dinner spread, with a thirty second transition to twelve hours of snoring, and only then do I uncork the bottle.  Other boats appear at the dock, and friends stroll up to the house with their bottles and a years worth of news to share.


  1. Beautiful.

    "Were Niagara but a cataract of sand, would you travel your thousand miles to see it? Why did the poor poet of Tennessee, upon suddenly receiving two handfuls of silver, deliberate whether to buy him a coat, which he sadly needed, or invest his money in a pedestrian trip to Rockaway Beach? Why is almost every robust healthy boy with a robust healthy soul in him, at some time or other crazy to go to sea? Why upon your first voyage as a passenger, did you yourself feel such a mystical vibration, when first told that you and your ship were now out of sight of land? Why did the old Persians hold the sea holy? Why did the Greeks give it a separate deity, and own brother of Jove? Surely all this is not without meaning. And still deeper the meaning of that story of Narcissus, who because he could not grasp the tormenting, mild image he saw in the fountain, plunged into it and was drowned. But that same image, we ourselves see in all rivers and oceans. It is the image of the ungraspable phantom of life; and this is the key to it all."

  2. Too perfect, too wonderful. Enjoy

  3. Just letting you know that I am still reading. This was excellently and edifyingly written - I didn't appreciate the extent of your aquatic interests before


    BON of Mode Parade

  4. It all sounds pretty perfect, including the rainy sail. The loon picture is reassuring, as their numbers are so low. I get weekly loon chick updates from my mother-in-law on Winnipesaukee. Nice Ratsey Bag.


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