Derelict Boats, Derelict Hearts

 

As Galveston dons the purple, green and gold of Mardi Gras and South Padre Island waits for the youthful, languorous stretch of Spring Break, Port O’Connor cleans its rods, repairs its reels and waits for the spring flounder run to begin.  Port O’Connor knows how to party, but in Port O’Connor, Texas, fishing comes first.  A little sleepy, slower in pace and rhythm than the cities to her north, Port O’Connor lies at the end of the coastal road, clinging to the edge of Matagorda Bay like a derelict boat that refuses to die.  Salted with spray, rusted and grayed, weathered from decades of storms, she looks at first glance to be a sullen and unpromising destination, but beneath the surface of her bays redfish and speckled trout school and scatter.  Beyond the intracoastal waterway, across the barrier island and over the dunes, surfcasters work the waves while, offshore, dorado and marlin, snapper, grouper and ling lure the adventurous and competitive with their promise of exhilarating combat. 

Years ago, I traveled to Port O’Connor to varnish a beautiful, classic sailboat owned by partners who didn’t fish but believed boats were meant to leave the dock from time to time.  Solitary as a tern, sun-lit and warm as a basking turtle, I labored through the days happy in the knowledge that evening would bring me the twin luxuries of simplicity and solitude.   After shrimp or salad on the dock, a lamp-lit cabin and uninterrupted time for reading or sleep were there for the taking.  If I happened back into the night to gaze at stars or passing tows, an old fellow who lived down the dock would stop and visit, glad to discover a few minutes of companionship.

He loved to talk. However truthful or tall, his tales were wonderful.  He meandered through long, intricate stories about  weekend fights outside local bars, harmless confrontations fueled by drink and boredom. He shared his astonishment at the woman who brought her easel and paints to capture the shifting seaside light and then, unused to nights filled with such deep, pervasive darkness, fled back to the city in terror.  More delicious still was his account of the novice  who went out to fish in a rubber dingy. Hooking the “big one” he’d always dreamed of, he couldn’t land it and ended by being towed all over the flats until his line broke.  Between snorts and guffaws, the old man gasped, “Damn fool never thought to cut his line, but even if he’d had the thought, t’weren’t gonna happen ’cause he didn’t have a knife. No knife!  Who goes fishing without a knife?” 

And so it went. After a few stories, he’d share his recipe for ceviche or brag on the boys who  fish the Poco Bueno and hang trophy marlins, or reminisce about the old days, when life was simpler, and good.  Always, he’d end with The Storm.   The Storm was Carla, Port O’Connor’s personal hurricane.  Long before Katrina, Rita and Ike showed up to monopolize the news cycle like meteorological stars with peeps and press agents, she was the one who scrawled her story across the pages of people’s lives.  

Carla was a Cecil B. DeMille kind of storm – vast, beyond belief and so compelling you couldn’t look away.  Decades later, people still gasp at the memories.  Carla  drove wheat straw from farm fields into the brick walls of homes. Carla left rattlesnakes hanging from trees. Carla so unnerved a woman she ran into her back yard and howled at the storm in defiance until her panic-stricken family dragged her back into the house and made her drink whiskey.

Almost as an afterthought, Carla raged through Port O’Connor’s collection of boats. Skiffs and jon boats were scattered or destroyed. Shrimp trawlers plowed into fields; sport fishers were carried inland by the surge.  A bit up the coast, even barges were forced miles inland, strewn up and down major highways like old-fashioned iron toys.  It’s the same with every storm. After Ivan hit Pensacola, it wasn’t rattlesnakes left hanging in the trees but sailboats from Palafox Marina.  Katrina demolished boats by the hundreds and then burned a Yacht Club for good measure. When Ike rolled through Galveston Bay, he stacked sailboats like cordwood and scattered trawlers like kindling.  When it was all over, there was nothing to do but gaze over the scene in numbed astonishment and think, “Well.”

As much grief as the loss of a boat entails, loss to a storm does have the virtue of being understandable. When winds tear at the rigging, surge plucks at lines and waves batter increasingly exhausted hulls for hours at a time, some boats manage to survive.  Others let go and give in to the blind, implacable forces of nature, tossing and tumbling to their deaths.  It’s sad, but inevitable.

What isn’t so easily understood  is death by inattention, the death of a boat that’s been abandoned, left neglected and lonely, allowed to rot away in marshes, at docks, or on out-of-the-way moorings.

 

In the world of “things”, nothing is sadder than a derelict boat.  Like a dog or cat callously thrown into the world to fend for itself, unwanted and unloved boats know they’ve been abandoned, and they grieve.  Deserted by owners too busy to give them care, relinquished in favor of other pursuits, cast off as no longer romantic or affordable,  they are ownerless in truth if not in fact.   Bereft of attention, they begin to decline.  Unused hoses harden and crack.  Unlubricated winches and cables seize up. Rust blooms, paint flakes and hanging gardens of algae ring the waterline,   Eventually, as time and weather shred the canvas and sun dries out the wood, the boat begins to settle on her lines, leaning inexorably into desolation, forsaken and forlorn.   

However much we humans love sunlight and water, it’s an unforgiving combination.  Forced to endure constant assaults from sun and sea, a boat has to be used, loved and maintained, or it will die.   Much of my own work is maintenance, tending to brightwork already in Bristol condition.  But while the maintenance of beauty is pure delight, nothing is more satisfying than bringing a derelict  boat back to life.

The process itself isn’t mysterious or complicated.  The only requirements are a few simple tools, a good bit of time, enormous patience and a high tolerance for tedium.  It’s also helpful to be convinced that miracles are possible, understand that 19th century techniques don’t always lend themselves to 21st century schedules and have a passing acquaintance with the basics of weather. But with patience, diligence and focus, even the worst damage can be repaired, bit by bit.   With patience and persistence, wood turns silky, fiberglass takes on a shine and machinery that clanked, rattled and banged begins to quietly hum, like an absorbed and happy child.

As work progresses, the day finally arrives when a boat realizes she’s going to sail again, and you can see the transformation.  A boat with hopes of  leaving the dock rides differently in the water. The rigging no longer howls like a woman facing down a storm but sings in the breeze with overtones of satisfaction and joy.  When a boat no longer feels abandoned, when she once again hears the call of the sea, you sometimes can surprise her gazing into the depths of her watery mirrors, rejoicing in her newfound dignity.

Working on derelict boats in hidden corners of world, it’s impossible not to think of parallels between their condition and the plight of assorted people who bob in the backwaters of society.  Decades ago, “derelict” was a word reserved for bums, drifters, vagrants and tramps. To be called “derelict” was to face moral judgement and live with the assumption that you were negligent, undependable, unreliable, untrustworthy or irresponsible.  The implication was that you were a person of lesser value, born of a lesser humanity, and well might deserve being left to rot in the backwaters of life.

Certainly there are irresponsible and deeply untrustworthy people in the world, just as there are people who choose to live as unproductive drifters.  But some derelicts who wander our world have more in common with my derelict boats than with skidrow bums or amoral profiteers.  Whether dressed in Brooks Brothers and Vera Wang or in resale shop markdowns, they are equally abandoned, equally neglected and cast off.    Whatever their appearance, they share the fate of dereliction – abandonment by family, neglect by society, or rejection by the institutions and structures which surround them.  Their dereliction is less a choice than a matter of circumstance. and it is essentially a matter of the heart.  If dereliction is to be exchanged for dignity, it is the heart itself which must be transformed.

When it comes to transformation, what holds true for boats holds true for human beings.  No matter how damaged a heart, no matter how hardened its lines, no matter how tattered its dreams or hard its grounding onto the shoals of unhappiness, there is nothing that time, patience and loving attention cannot transform.  Repairing a heart does require dedication, an acceptance of the tedium of daily life and a willingness to engage in repetitively difficult or unpleasant tasks. Certainly it profits from steady faith and a willingness to believe that even when the past makes its presence known, even when its reflections linger and shimmer in the brightness of newer days, eventually all of the shabbiness, disrepair and simple ugliness of dereliction will be undone.

With Valentine’s day just passed, a day dedicated to exchanging hearts as tokens of affection, it’s worth pausing a moment to ponder the realities of life and love.  Somewhere, docked at the edge of our lives, moored just beyond our concern,  run aground in a marsh of indifference or neglect, a derelict heart leans inexorably into desolation, forsaken and forlorn.  It may be time to aid its transformation.

Comments are welcome.  To leave a comment or respond, please click below.
Thanks to SunsetSailor (Laura Ragland) for providing the perfect photograph of the derelict boat.  Her exquisite photography can be found on SmugMug, along with contact information.  Click here for a view of the original photograph.

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21 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. When you wrote that you were working on my derelict photo in Photoshop, I cringed but held back my reaction to wait and see if this collaboration would be a good thing. It was like turning over my beloved child to someone I haven’t known all my life. Now that child is all dressed up in different clothes and she just looks beautiful in her public debut outfits. WOW, they look like designer outfits!

    Your words about the skills and patience for any boat transformation, of course resonate. My personal images of derelict hearts are of the folks I know and have known in nursing homes, a young woman who is a recovering drug addict and of course some students (thankfully only a few) that I have taught. Their faces drift through “our” foggy images and I am very glad to have known all of them.

    Laura Ragland

    Laura,

    Have I been camped out on my blog’s doorstep, waiting for your reaction? Of course I have! I’ve learned enough of the creative impulse (and enough of artistic possessiveness!) to have anticipated your nervousness from the beginning. That’s one reason I included the link to the original photo. I wanted anyone who was interested to be able to see the original easily, and determine for themselves if the adaptations served the purpose of the text. There’s a great difference between simply sticking “pretty pictures” into a page to attract attention, and actually utilizing a photographer’s vision to emphasize and explore the depths of words. I’m glad you’re satisfied with this result.

    And yes, those hearts. You speak around one point I eventually edited out of this piece: an easy tendency to equate “derelict” with “homeless”, or “street person”. In those cases, it’s a huge mistake to assume that providing a home or getting a person off the streets is sufficient. Even when quite practical, physical needs are taken care of, the dereliction of the heart surely can remain. And, as you make clear, it’s all around us, in the most ordinary and unremarkable places. A dear friend who spent her last years in a nursing home once said to me, “It’s easy in this place to figure out who’s been abandoned, and who hasn’t – and sometimes the people with the most visitors are the most abandoned.” She helped write this, too.

    Thank you so much – for reading, and commenting, and supporting through the months, but especially for sharing your art.

    Linda

  2. I think this is my favorite of your essays, so far. The imagery, the detail, the connections woven like so many strands of the rope that moors each boat to the dock. So many things–so many people–are lost to “death by inattention.” It is shameful (think of the current peanut butter scare – they knew and went ahead anyway; think of the “Challenger” but for an O-ring, seven lives were lost…it goes on). I loved the old man for his outrage–“who goes fishing without a knife?!” And I am fascinated by the details of your “real” occupation: so much care given to every tiny “task at hand.” Thank you for writing this–and especially for paying attention.

    One of the pictures reminds me very much of a boat I once knew; I think you may have given me a way “in” to an idea that’s been floating around (sorry!) for a while…so thanks for that, too!

    ds ~

    Always happy to provide a little inspiration. I gain so much from those I read, and it’s only right to return the favor. What goes around, comes around, as we say in Texas.

    You really started me down a different path with the phrase “death by inattention”. There’s a lot of that going on these days, and it’s worth thinking about. But the old man – there wasn’t a lick of outrage there. He was responding as though he’d just seen a pink brontosaurus walking down the road – with a combination of astonishment and amusement!

    Delighted to see you stop by, and thanks for the thoughtful comments.

    Linda

  3. Two comments off the top of my head. First, I’m not sure whether to show this blog to my fishing-crazed hubby or not. I think I will. Incentive on his part to visit the areas around Galveston.

    Secondly, the entire essay ~ sweet!! A beautiful and thought-provoking job.

    Hi, JD ~

    Ah… fishing-crazed, huh? I think you’d better show it to him. Shall I send along a list of guides working Matagorda Bay? You know, once you hit North Texas it’s only a (Texas-sized) hop, skip and a jump!

    Glad you enjoyed the read. It’s been percolating for a long, long time, and when Laura sent along that photo, it was the catalyst. I loved putting it together.

    Linda

  4. Really could spend the rest of the evening thinking about the different images and memories that dance through my head as I read this essay.
    It’s also interesting how things, like people, take on a life or slow death throes of their own when given attention or neglect.
    It seems having a purpose keeps things from slowly listing to their side and sinking.
    Hmmm…

    Nanette,

    I’m not a particular fan of Rick Warren, but your comment did remind me of the popularity of his book, “The Purpose-Driven Life”. Lack of purpose, in its most virulent forms, is easy to recognize, but the phenomenon of that book suggests there are people hidden in the nooks and crannies of life who are feeling the same lack.

    When you get down to it, even your school experience with Roxie demonstrates the same dynamic. You can spot immediately which pets have been given attention, and which have been neglected. A lot of so-called “bad” dogs and cats are simply creatures who haven’t been given the consistent and loving attention they need. Gardens are the same – and it’s pretty easy to spot attention or neglect in that case!

    There’s a wish for us all – to have the time we need to tend to things that need attention!

    Linda

  5. “Derelict Boats, Derelict Hearts” is fascinating on many levels, and it certainly opened my thinking to new understandings of the word derelict.

    To successfully transform Ms. Ragland’s image from what she actually saw, framed and captured, into photo-illustrations of the concepts in your post, took focus, daring and finesse. Your results are themselves a demonstration of the attention to detail you stress in the essay.

    On the other hand Ms. Ragland’s photograph could have stood unaltered and still been perfect for this piece. It is a superb image. Frankly I am unable to decide which approach I prefer—the photo-illustrative or straight photography.

    Mike,

    I’m delighted beyond words with your response, for a very particular reason. When you say you’re unable to make a firm choice between the photo-illustrative or photography approach, you’re walking directly into the heart of one of my favorite issues in life: the choice between “either/or” and “both/and”. On my About Me page, I’ve even included that pair in my Basic Life Choices section, where I opt for “both/and”.

    I’ve been thinking about this since last night, trying to understand why it seems so important to me. The choice for “either/or” obviously is exclusionary. If offered the choice between cake and pie, and I choose pie, I exclude cake. If someone says, “Movie or concert”, and I choose movie, the concert is lost to history.

    When I was in fifth grade, my grandmother made a dress for me. It was a deep emerald green and sapphire blue plaid cotton with pleats around the bottom third, and it was beautiful. When I saw it, I burst into tears. Grandma asked me what was wrong, and I said, “Blue and green don’t belong together.” It was the fifties, and that was the received wisdom. You could have either blue OR green, but not both blue AND green. A wise woman, Grandma took me outside and made me look at the trees against the sky. When I agreed that trees were green and the sky blue, she said, “See? Blue and green together here, so why not in your dress?” Both/and.

    I remind myself of this when I write. If I’m going for either/or, if I’m going to exclude this or that, I need to be aware of what I’m doing, and make an intentional choice. I need not only to know what I’m doing, but why.

    But there’s something else – falling into “either/or” thinking is a handy way to resolve the tensions implicit in “both/and”. Some questions are more complex than choices between pie and cake. Is this person bad, or good? Is our will free, or constrained by necessity? Is this painting beautiful, or ugly?

    I’ve come to think that the greatest art – the most compelling art, if you will – is art that refuses to resolve the particular tension it’s dealing with. I don’t know a lick about art criticism or how people in the field would approach such questions. All I know is that when I think, for example, of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” and then think of the canvases that were lined up last week at the starving artists’ show on the corner by the liquor store, the difference is more than technique. The corner canvases were flat and dead, while Van Gogh’s is vibrant and alive. I’m just convinced that somewhere in his process, Van Gogh confronted the question, “Is the night sky this, or that?” and decided it was both/and.

    So, to come back to my delight with your comment – to hear someone say such a thing suggests that even if I haven’t reached the level of art, I’m at least in the neighborhood, peeking over the fence. That makes me both pleased and happy.

    Linda

  6. Oh, my, Linda. How you touch the heart. The detail in your words speak not only of acute observation of the external — the textures, the colors — but of the internal as well. The soul, if you will.

    I am sending a young man with a broken heart to read this post, if he will. I think it will speak to him. I know it spoke to me, as I thought of his broken heart and how I ache for him to heal from the wounds of young love so he can truly discover the beauty that awaits him in the world.

    jeanie,

    Thank you so much for your kind words. All of us have had our days of dereliction. It’s tempting in those times to imagine that filling up the emptiness outside will heal the emptiness inside, but it’s rarely so. We’ve all seen those “rebound relationships”, for example, and know how well those work out.

    Time doesn’t heal, but time does allow healing to take place. I’ve watched it in the natural world since Hurricane Ike. Everything was out of synch – Bradford pears blooming in November, leaves turning in January, migrating flocks landing where’re they’ve never been sighted before – but with the coming of spring, things appear to be returning to normal. I wish your friend a springtime of the heart.

    Linda

  7. You posts are always so well thought out and moving. I loved the images you used in this one.

    I live on Vancouver Island in Canada and the derelict boat in the picture reminds me of one that my neighbor has been restoring in his yard for the past 6 months.

    Cheers,
    Trevas

    Hi, Trevas,

    How nice of you to stop by! Thanks for the kind words, especially re: the images. The whole project was immensely satisfying.

    Sometimes it seems the whole of Vancouver is blogging. I’ve learned more about Vancouver in the past six months than in my entire life – one day I’ll get out there. If it’s anything like the Gulf Coast, I imagine there are more than a few boats being restored in backyards. My favorite restoration involves the Arabia Steamship. It sank in the Missouri River in 1856, and then the river changed course. Over a century later a pair of brothers went looking for it, found it in Kansas cornfield, dug it up and restored it. It’s got its very own museum, now. That’s overcoming dereliction with a vengeance!

    Linda

  8. Linda,
    You lead a rich life and your writing shows it. How blessed you are to have had such life experiences!

    I don’t know much about boats, nor have I ever experienced the powerful winds of a hurricane, but I could almost taste the salt and feel the spray.

    Most importantly, your piece stirred compassion in my heart for those derelict souls in my life. One such young woman I know loves to write. Your essay has spurred me to offer to read some of her work and by doing so, hopefully encourage her a bit. Perhaps a little time and attention will help her.

    I like both the photograph and your version of it. Both show something of the artist’s heart and eye.

    Again, a thought provoking essay. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

    Hi, Tee,

    How nice of you to come by. I’ve so enjoyed following the special events in your life – congratulations again on your anniversary!

    When I first began thinking about dereliction and talking with others about it, I was interested to receive an email from a friend about dereliction in the young. She suggested that the quietness and passivity of true dereliction often are touted as virtues in the young, rather than recognized as symptoms of soul-destroying hoplessness. We’re far quicker to recognize the difficulties of kids who “act out” and attempt to do something about it. Her point was that we often confuse passive with well-behaved and move right on. It’s an interesting line of thought.

    Young or old, everyone profits from a kind word, a bit of attention that’s meant for them, and them alone. It’s wonderful there are people like you in the world willing to give it.

    Linda

  9. Linda:

    Your response to my comments on Derelict Boats, Derelict Hearts reminded me of what Susan Sontag said, “The painter constructs, the photographer discloses.” This suggests that the attraction of photo-illustration lies in its constructive nature, whereas the attraction of photography lies in the discovery and subsequent revelation of the subject—making it visible.

    Two artists (favorites of mine) who exemplify Sontag’s observation would be Richard Dibenkorn the painter and Henri Cartier Bresson, the photographer. Bresson sought the decisive moment, that instant when the geometry of the photograph came together—click, no retakes. Dibenkorn worked his paintings, forcing mistakes, giving himself the challenge of discovering a way forward, constructing, deconstructing and constructing again until the painting coalesced.

    Sontag’s statement clarifies my attraction to writing, painting and photography, and why I do all three. It is my need to hone and integrate my observations into creative expression.

    I believe the artist must be a finely tuned mix of observer, doer, critic, and contemplative. I also believe that the source of all good art comes from the artist’s willingness to tolerate ambiguity and cultivate the tension between the observed and felt.

    Your observation of the starving artists canvases compared with Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” demonstrates the difference between a work of Art that is conceived with acute observation and deep feeling and art-like work that is merely an exercise of technique.

    You may be interested to know a little of my background relative to these comments. My undergraduate degrees are in Art Education and Psychology, and my Masters degree is in Studio Art with a graphic design emphasis (Michigan State University). No doubt my formal education has left me biased in some ways. However those biases are tempered by my personal experience as a writer, painter and photographer and my friendships and association with other artists.

    Thanks again for your thought provoking writing and commentary.

    Mike,

    What a rich, stimulating and helpful collection of remarks. My first reaction to the Sontag quotation was to amend it slightly: the painter constructs, the photographer discloses, and the writer attempts to do both -preferably at the same time. My own extraordinarily limited experience suggests the better my construction, the fuller the disclosure of the reality I’m trying to communicate. I suspect painters and photographers do both, as well. For example, a photographer who chooses a subject, focuses on details to include or exclude, opts for this light or that and then frames the photo in a certain way certainly is constructing the image. And of course the “constructing, deconstructing and constructing again” of Dibenkorn is the essence of the writing process – or so it is for me.

    I’m delighted to hear the story about Henri Cartier Bresson. I spent lovely vacations sailing with friends in the Bahamas and Virgin Islands. He’d been a professional photographer in Europe, specializing in advertising layouts for luxury autos. The name of his sailboat? “Reshoot”. When asked about the name he’d laugh heartily and say, “It’s what my professors at the art institute never told me about”.

    An even greater delight is to read of your belief that “the artist must be a finely turned mix of observer, doer critic and contemplative.”
    It’s a more elegant restatement of some things I said in “Reading, Writing and Thinking: A Paradigm for Blogging“. I’ve tried to chart my own path in this venture, and it’s rather satisfying to think I may have stumbled my way into convictions that are shared by others with more experience.

    Finally, thanks for providing the phrases I was grasping for and couldn’t find: tolerating ambiguity, cultivating tension. A willingness to do both is useful in life as well as art.

    It’s a delight and a solace to think that art – painting, photography, writing, music – can be thought about and talked about without falling into jargon!

    Many thanks for your willingness to spend a bit of time here – I appreciate it.

    Linda

  10. Dear Linda,

    Your writing is beautiful. I found this randomly, and couldn’t pass by without saying something.

    Sincerely,
    Rachel

    Rachel!

    I’m so glad you stopped, because if you hadn’t, I might never have known about “rum creeters” (missed that, in my Dickens), the NYNU, DeForest’s story of love in the Civil War years or the wonderful writing that you and your friends have been doing. Not only that, in my search for those rum creeters, I discovered Phyllis Weisbard’s site for all things womanly and historical, which I intend to get back to just as soon as I’m done with the rumcreeters!

    Your site is wonderful, and I’d love to have read some of those stories. I had dear friends who lived in Morningside Heights, and I spent plenty of time roaming that area in the late 70s and early 80s. I’m a great fan of New York – all the boroughs – and always am tickled to have a reason to do some reminiscing.

    I noticed your comment on your site that you’ve been writing since grade school. Since I’ve only been writing – “really” writing for about a year, it makes me happy to know someone with such a long track record likes what I do. Many thanks for leaving a comment. I’ll enjoy looking at your site.

    Linda

  11. I love to read your stories. First of all you have a beautiful language, but it is also stories about life far away from where I live. It has an exotic touch to me, that is inevitable when the climate and the culture differ between reader and writer.

    And I’ve also learned a new word: derelict. I considered to have it as a Saturday-word on my blog, but unfortunately the etymology wasn’t very interesting.

    Desiree,

    It makes me smile to hear you speak of that “exotic touch” in regard to my life. To me, my boats and all they entail seem so ordinary. You’re right, of course, that what is different seems exotic to us. It’s wonderful that the internet opens so much and lets us interact with people from these “strange places” rather than just looking at photos or reading books.

    I’ll see if I can’t find a more interesting word or two for you!

    Linda

  12. Linda,

    We all find something in this essay that resonates. For me, your recounting of the hurricanes. I have lived in the midst of two of them. I don’t mind looking back at them, in fact, am always curious (who isn’t to some degree) but cannot bear the same old same old recountings that so many dish up, the draggy negative who-screwed-up discussion.

    Your talk of them was natural, poetic in describing the force and power of the storms themselves, the wonder of them, not in praise but as natural phenomena. And the way each of them treated the Texas coast. oh, well done!

    And the old guy’s story was of the type I never tire of. He probably is book-ful of them. How nice to discover him on your dock. I do wish “neighbors” had more “natural” time (unplanned, spontaneous) for talking. That’s where the best stories, and the true ones, are.

    oh,

    The fact is that storms are fascinating, and we’d probably hear more about that side of them were they not so destructive. The details – the straw driven into the brick, the necklace hanging on the stripped tree – always have compelled my attention. The simple incongruity is wonderful and amazing.

    I’m sure my dock-friend did have a lifetime of stories. Thinking about your comment, I couldn’t help noting that on that dock there was no television, no computer, no electronic games… If we all turned off the machines and went outdoors to sit on the front porch – who knows what might happen!

    Many thanks for stopping by – I’d forgotten that you weren’t inland your whole life!

    Linda

  13. I know I’m probably preaching to the choir but I can’t help but mention the songs of the late, great Stan Rogers, who wrote movingly of derelict boats and, yes, derelict hearts.

    Sadly, he died on his flight home from the 1983 Kerrvillle Folk Festival.

    Al,

    A wonderful reference. And yes, his music does fit here. For anyone who comes by and doesn’t know him, this is a wonderful video – both for the song and for the rare footage.

    I’m actually more familiar with his work now than I was even a few years ago. I participate on another site where there are some folks from the Maritimes, and a proud Newfie or two. They’re always happy to enlighten us about their heritage, and we’re glad for the tutorials!

    Linda

  14. I fish without a knife. I fish. Something has to keep the writing at bay.
    I been working on derelictitude since I was a small fry.

    • blufloyd,

      Love that – “derelictitude”. You ever read Lewis Grizzard or Leon Hale? Those fellas both had derelictitude down to a fine art, and they wrote just fine. Leon just had himself a 90th birthday party up the road from Houston – I think something like 1,500 people showed up for cake and such, and they all sat around and celebrated the simple life.

      Fishing without a knife? You do noodling, too? I guess that’s maybe more of an Oklahoma/Arkansas/Texas thing. I wouldn’t want to do it myself, but I’m willing to watch it on tv now and then.

      Linda

  15. The image I sent you was a sketch done by one of my daughter’s boyfriends. He used an old picture I had here of the event: Michael, the fellow who took the boat off the Hard got the M.V. “Link”‘s Chrysler Crown running, I think he and the old fisherman he bought it from had patched the old hull with sheet lead before they hauled it back to the chuck. I moved in to rent the top floor of his house near Nanaimo shortly after he had lost interest or needed some money and was selling the boat.

    One day he was hitching a ride in to town with me and I said: “Before you sell the boat I would like to see it.” He said: “Turn left here” and guided me to the docks. We clambered on board and immediately the smell of old wood and engine oil and generations of fish blood hypnotized me. He started the Chrysler engine and it hummed and purred. I said: “You want 1500$ for the boat?” He said:”For you $1000.”

    I had no cash either but my father in law had given us a present of a thousand dollars of “Esso” (Read “Exxon”) stocks for our very recent wedding
    I took Mike on to his business and did whatever I had to do and went home to talk Herself into cashing the stocks and buying the boat.
    For reasons not fully understood by me she phoned her Dad and he probably just took back the stocks and sent her the cash.
    We owned a boat!

    And we loved the “Link”. In those days you could catch fish around the local area and thunder about with a leaky old tub and fit right in. Bilge water was meant to go back to the sea. So maybe I’ll post more stories on my own blog at WU but I think this is pushing the limits on yours.
    The image I sent is yours to use as you see fit.

    Dang it! I probably had read the “Derelict” at some point and just assumed I had responded earlier. The images there are so familiar.

  16. Ken,

    Had to laugh – I’ve been reading some of the Canadian blogs enough that my first thought when I came to “Nanaimo” was those Nanaimo bars – one of the best desserts I’ve come across. I had to go on a hunt for Bird’s custard powder to make them. It was worth it.

    Great sketch, and great story. Sometimes, you just do what you have to do. I can’t help but think of that Biblical story about the pearl of great price, or the number of times that completely unexpected opportunities have arisen in my own life. Sometimes, as the Nike people like to advertise, you have to “just do it”.

    Funny – I’m putting together a little piece on gunkholing. It looks to me like M/V Link would be a great gunkholer! Thank goodness you got her back on the water. Nothing in the world is sadder than a boat that can’t sail.

    Linda

    • I knew you’d like it .It is fun to go way back. I’m working on the other blog to try to make sense of that story–it is fairly long.

      Oh yes: my neighbour makes the best “Nanaimo Bars” . I suppose I could send some down but they are better fresh. You may have to extend your next road trip.

    • Funny – Gunkholing was Link’s forte. Together we pocked our bow into some truly wonderful spots and sometimes into real scary (for me) seas. She (OK I’ll accept the norm.) would roll so far I had a foot on one wall and my shoulder on the other but she ALWAYS came back. We did have cameras back then but there are few images left.

      There are some special spots up the East Pacific coast: Nequakto Narrows runs 16 Kn. Aran Rapids (we call it the “Yuclatas” but it is spelled: Yaculta) took out a boat and crew sent to film fast water for National Geographic. I’ve been through the Aran a few times but only gazed in wonder at Nekwackto.

  17. Linda,

    This post and its title (especially) has inspired me to write a poem. Thank you so much: your words spurred me to create something beautiful for myself.

    Red

    • Red,

      How wonderful! It always amazes me how this or that can spur thought and creativity. God may have been able to create out of the void, but we need one another – and the world – to get the juices flowing.

      Linda


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