Ports of Entry

Old Espiritu Santo Bay ~ Indianola, Texas
Always too eager for the future, we
Pick up bad habits of expectancy.
Something is always approaching; every day
“Till then,” we say,
Watching from a bluff the tiny, clear,
Sparkling armada of promises draw near.
How slow they are! And how much time they waste,
Refusing to make haste.
Yet still they leave us holding wretched stalks
Of disappointment, for, though nothing balks
Each big approach, leaning with brasswork prinked,
Each rope distinct,
Flagged, and the figurehead with golden tits
Arching our way, it never anchors; it’s
No sooner present than it turns to past.
Right to the last
We think each one will heave to and unload
All good into our lives, all we are owed
For waiting so devoutly and so long.
But we are wrong:
Only one ship is seeking us, a black-
Sailed unfamiliar, towing at her back
A huge and birdless silence. In her wake
No waters breed or break.
                      ― Philip Larkin,  “Next, Please” 

The Poetry Foundation provides more information on the poet Philip Larkin.   A new article about him and a review of a new biography are available here.  Comments are welcome, always.

91 thoughts on “Ports of Entry

    1. And for attentiveness, perhaps: or receptivity for what is. The poem captured me whole the first time I read it, and only now have I realized how apropos it is for a new year.

      All good wishes for your new year, Melissa.

  1. Mr. Larkin reminds us in his startling use of language, that our final ship– indeed the one that hushes even the magpie– will dock at our shore while we are waiting for our barge to make its way around the Bend.

    1. Indeed, Cherie. And for me, the slight shiver of “a birdless silence” is outdone by the ending line about the wakeless ship. Tales of ghost ships come to mind, of course, along with certain other inevitabilities.

      It took a few readings for me to appreciate how beautifully he’d structured the rhyme. It reads so easily. I can only imagine the work that went into it. I don’t remember ever being introduced to his work, although, of course, I might not have been paying attention in class that day.

  2. My Myers-Briggs personality type (ISTP) is all about the present moment – to the point that I have to really work to plan for the future (like remembering to take a coat because it will be cool on the way home). But I still fall into the trap of looking forward instead of fully enjoying this moment. Maybe that should be my resolution this year – to find a moment each day where I am fully present.

    1. I haven’t thought about the Myers-Briggs in ages, Dana. The last time I took it was in the early seventies, I think, and I haven’t a clue where I ended up on the scale.

      It is interesting to see how we differ in our focus when it comes to past, present, and future. And that focus can change over the course of our lives. I used to be far more concerned with the past than with the future. Once I started my own business, the future became much more important, although that was as much a matter of circumstance as of personality change. Or so I suspect.

      One thing seems certain. If circumstances can reshape our focus, then it ought to be possible to become more attentive to the present by changing this or that in our lives. It certainly could be a fun project for the year.

    1. Of course you’d pick up on that, Judy!

      There’s a seasonal silence here that can be equally unnerving. From about the end of October until “whenever,” all the birds go silent. It used to bother me. It feels as though all the life has been drained from the woods. But they always come back: woodpeckers, nuthatches, cardinals, chickadees.

      The worst silence I’ve ever experienced was after Hurricane Ike. Everything was gone: birds, fish, insects. I still remember the night I heard the first fish jump. That’s when I knew the real recovery had begun.

  3. Thank you, Linda, for reminding me to enjoy the present! So often, we find ourselves reminiscing about the past and hungering for the future, when all we really know is right here, right now.

    1. So true, Debbie. And if we’re not reminiscing about the past and hungering for the future, we can be equally tempted toward regret and fear. Focusing on what is can be a great antidote to “why did I?” and “what if?”

      Here’s to a year of living fully, and enjoying all the times of our lives.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it, DM. Whatever the new year brings, encouragement’s always a good thing. We might as well start things out right, don’t you think?

      Best wishes for this new year. May you, your family and crew prosper.

  4. Time is a relative thing. It passes differently for observers dependent upon their relative motions. Time passes more slowly for things which pass us by. Even the fabric of space itself contracts with motion.

    Here is a quote I like from a noteworthy fellow.

    “People like us who believe in physics know that the distinction between the past, the present and the future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” – Albert Einstein

    1. The old business about a minute kissing a pretty girl vs. a minute sitting on a hot stove is more understandable to someone like me, Jim, but I take your point.

      As for Einstein, he might have been willing to describe the aspects of time as illusory, but he was a practical fellow, too. I love that he also said, “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is to not stop questioning.” The trick is knowing when to set aside time-as-illusion; when to ask, “What time is dinner?”; and when to show up for it!

    1. That’s what makes it so refreshing to be with them, Bella. They’re reminders of what we’ve lost, but they’re also models of what we can reclaim. And, as you well know, they’re more than willing to let us rejoin them in the joys of the present.

      It just occurred to me — maybe that’s why the snowflakes in their room seemed so perfect. As much as anything in nature, snowflakes are pure present.

  5. I’d never heard of Philip Larkin before reading your post. I think I like his poetry and I just might for the heck of it get one of his novels. it appears from reading his bio that he was quite a romeo. In one period of his life he had three relationships going at one time. To top it off he had one of his lady partners shred his diaries after his death. I can only imagine that those writings contained some “juicy” tidbits.

    I like your photograph of the pier very much. The coloring of the boards gives depth to the picture.

    1. Oh, those poets. Juggling three relationships, it’s a wonder he had time to write anything. Whether he was having a good time is another question. There’s a strong thread of depression running through his work, not to mention nihilism. But it’s not everywhere, and some of his poems I like very much.

      You might especially enjoy hearing him read one of his own poems. The words of the poem are included beneath and in the video, so it’s a little easier to follow along.

      I’m glad you like the photo. I’m quite fond of it myself. I took about a dozen or so at that place, and this is my favorite. If you look again, you can see the pier dipping down at the far end, like a roller coaster. I think that helps give it a sense of liveliness, too. But the colors are wonderful: another variation on my favorite combination of teal and adobe.

        1. Just five minutes ago I ran into a fascinating article about Larkin that provides a different perspective on the man. Apparently, the old adage about “with friends like these, who needs enemies?” applies.

          In any event, I enjoyed the article, especially the fact that he wrote about four poems per year in his prime. As he put it, “Silence is preferable to publishing rubbish and far better for one’s reputation.”

          You can read the article in “Commentary.”

            1. I’ve never described a man as a “cad,” but Larkin might fit the category. Interesting that the word has its roots in the British class system. And the relationship of his life to his work seems remarkable. In fact, I might put the latest biography on my to-be-read list. I’m as curious about those women as I am about him.

              I’m glad you enjoyed the link, Yvonne. There’s always something new to learn, isn’t there?

    1. Now, that is a sentiment I understand perfectly, montucky. Some friends and I who gathered near this bay after Christmas talked about how perspective changes over the years. I’m the baby of the group, at 68. The others were 74 (or so), 80, and 96. For all of us, every day is a gift.

  6. This is a lovely photo of the pier and perfect for what its ups and downs evoke. Interesting name for the bay, too.

    The first two verses will stay with me for awhile. I remember thinking like this but like montucky above, I now feel less eager for time’s passing by.

    “Always too eager for the future, we
    Pick up bad habits of expectancy.”

    1. It’s amazing how much we can learn in a day, Georgette. On my way from San Antonio to Port O’Connor after Christmas, I stopped to see Espiritu Santo Mission and La Bahia. I hadn’t realized the mission originally was founded on Espirtu Santo Bay, then moved twice, to its present location. The bay? We know it today as Lavaca Bay. And Indianola? Well, there are tales to tell about that ghost port, too.

      I spent some time thinking about what those lines you quoted have to say about the sense of let-down I used to experience after “big” days. Christmas? Weeks of preparation, and then — gone! Anticipation and enjoyment of special days — birthdays, graduations, births, religious holidays — is good. But if we expect too much from them, disappointment’s inevitable. I’ve moved beyond that now, but I know many haven’t.

      The other thing the poem brought to mind was the Melanesian cargo cults, and the ways in which we resemble them — always on the shore, always waiting, always expecting treasure from somewhere else.

      Now that I think of it, “Less Watching, More Doing” wouldn’t be a bad resolution for a new year.

  7. Well, I was with Philip Larkin till the end. Actually, I was with you and ready to compliment you on your Sondheim-worthy rhymes till I read the credit. But he sure is a bit of a downer at the end, isn’t he? I think I’ll pass on that last bit! Just SO not ready to go there.

    Are you going to Into the Woods? Talk about some interesting rhyming…

    1. Oh, my goodness, Jeanie. If I wrote a poem this beautifully constructed, I might just say, “My work here is done,” and let that be it.

      Funny. If I’d read the poem as a “downer,” I might not have posted it. But it doesn’t feel that way at all to me. A little chilling, yes. A memento mori? Certainly. But in some ways, all of that is a good antidote to the hyped-up and (for many) false cheeriness of the recent holidays. When I began feeling claustrophobic and knew it was time to move on was when I ran into a guy in an elf suit and a cowboy hat on the San Antonio river walk. He was walking a miniature pig and yelling, “How-DEE!” to the passers-by. Larkin’s ship beats that, every time — at least in my opinion. I still haven’t fully recovered from that experience.

      You lost me with your reference about going into the woods, and the rhyming. I went back and read the poem and the comments, and can’t see what caught your attention. Help!


    2. Ah, ha. I saw a post this morning about “Into the Woods,” and discovered it’s a current film. I had no idea. I suspect that’s the context for your comment. Right?

        1. Well, there you have it. A perfect example of cultural references falling off at both ends. Apparently the 2014 film adaptation is of the musical, which I missed completely. Of course, the musical had its Broadway premiere in November, 1987, and I started sailing in August, 1987, so there’s that…

  8. Marmeladegypsy’s take on the poem was a shame. We are all entitled to an opinion, but my interpretation of this startling poem is “Carpe Diem”. The first stanza cautions us to “get with it”, time is fleeting. I loved it.

    1. We all bring our own experiences to the interpretation of poems — or any art, for that matter — and I can understand Jeanie’s take on it. I wouldn’t call it a “shame.” On the other hand, your mention of “carpe diem” accords well with my sense of the poem as a memento mori: among other things.

      The “black-sailed unfamiliar” was the image that struck me most forcefully, because of one of my own experiences. In August, 1989, some friends and I were sailing from Brownsville back to Galveston. We were about 35 miles offshore, tacking into a strong north wind, and we were being shadowed. The entire way, a mysterious vessel tracked our course throughout the night.

      The next day, as we entered Galveston Bay, we were stopped and boarded — by the Feds! Eventually, we learned a large shipment of guns had been impounded in Port Isabel. Apparently some of them weren’t accounted for, and the assumption was that they’d been loaded onto boats. Our zig-zag course, a simple tacking into the wind, was picked up on radar, and we became “persons of interest.”

      Once they searched the boat, found no weapons and figured out we were nothing more than a bunch of middle-aged women crazy enough to be offshore in rough conditions, that was the end of that.

      But I’ve never forgotten the experience of knowing a ship was following: a black-sailed unfamiliar, towing behind a huge and birdless silence. Those simple lines brought it all back.

      I’m glad you liked the poem, Kayti.

    1. Wait, I thought. That’s not how you spell “barque.” Or is it? I double-checked (yes: barque, barc, or bark). Then, I read your comment again, and started to laugh. What a wonderful, funny bit of word-play.

  9. The photo and poem work together perfectly. This post is a very thought-provoking one for the New Year. Living in the present can add so much richness to our lives.

    1. I’m glad you like the pairing, Sheryl. It crossed my mind to wonder: isn’t the gift of living in the present part of the reason people like your grandmother and aunt are so fascinating to us? The records they left are, for the most part, focused on the present, rather than the past or future. I’ll be interested to follow your aunt’s story, and see if my hunch about that bears out.

    1. Isn’t it wonderful, Teresa? Every time I read it, I’m more deeply affected. I’m just glad I found his work, and this poem specifically. It was a serendipitous discovery. I was rummaging around in Goodreads, looking for a different quotation, and there it was.

      A happy new year to you, and best wishes for much creativity and more wonderful discoveries..

  10. For something that does not exist, we spend an awful lot of it worrying, planning, wishing, dreaming, complaining, waiting, remembering……

    The fear, for me, is not of the dark ship but of the time not spent living as it approaches. Of course, once on board nothing else matters.

    Ummmm….Happy New Year, Linda. :-)

    1. Isn’t that the truth, Steve? We waste a lot of time, too, and sometimes try to hoard it. We might as well spend it as we please,though, because we’re not going to take it with us any more than we’ll carry along our bank accounts.

      For some reason, your comment reminded me of a favorite song from years ago: one that begins with the words, “Time, time. time — see what’s become of me…” The video I found seems perfect for a refocusing, winter-bound photographer.

      I have a feeling you’ll be spending your time wisely in this new year. Enjoy it!

  11. Mysterious boat and “persons of interest”. Had to laugh at that…how many times have sailors been surprised at the reaction to their wacky behavior?
    Great poem – such precise universal images. Hadn’t read this one, but it is perfect for now.
    I used to love walking old weathered docks around Palacios. Guess the sea/bay environment presents lots to muse about.
    Nicely done. But you always sail with the best literary / words for company

    1. Phil, the best part was that the guys who stopped us were pure Miami Vice, lounging in teeshirts and dark glasses on the deck of a speedboat.They knew who they were waiting for. The blue lights went on the minute we were abeam. Good times.

      I’ve been in Palacios a couple of times in past months. The old dance pavilion across from the Luther hotel is going to be rebuilt, and things seem a little more active than they have been in the past. It’s nice to see the nets drying all over town. Maybe some of the hard feelings have gone away — or maybe half of the argument has moved away.

      In any event, they’d understand the poem down there, too. There’s a new monument that’s been built in honor of those who left and never came back. I like it. Now, there’s always someone watching.

      1. Very cool about the pavilion being rebuilt. There’s so much potential there, so few motivated. Even the Luther was a bit down in the heels in the mid 70’s. The Bay City Energy plant meant a lot to that area.
        You know why the middle school/high school are built where they are? They staked the high tide line from Carla and then moved a bit back to build. Heard some really terrifying tales from those who as little kids crouched in attics as those waters rose up to their chins, then desperately trying to rip the roof open to crawl out into the storm. Their father tied them all together so when all the bodies would be together and they could be buried as a family. Somehow they managed to cling to that roof all those dark hours – a large family of tiny kids – once it stopped they waved at planes and a boat finally came. You know all of them still live along coastal areas. (Hmmm. maybe should dig out that short story from that tale.)
        Have any good Vietnamese restaurants managed to open there yet? Lots of resettlement. Lots of conflict at first – not understanding/following fishing regulations. (Hmm, may be time to wander that way…surely someplace would let Molly come, too)

        1. I haven’t seen much other than seafood around there. My favorite always was farther down the coast, in Fulton — a little Chinese-Cajun fusion placed called (wait for it!): “Hu-Dat.”

          If you head down that way, you won’t be able to miss Matagorda County’s big economic news. Tenaris is busy building a pipe plant outside Bay City. It’s an amazing thing to see – I think I recall it’s a $1.5B project,

          As for Carla, when I lived in Victoria, I knew some folks who’d survived her. One family lived on a ranch just north of 59. They had straw driven into their garage door and the bricks on their house – perpendicular. Oh, the stories. One of my customers, a commercial pilot, flew into Galveston after that storm. The only place to land was on the seawall, and you had to make your way through the snakes once you were down.

          We’ve been so lucky, for so many years now. I’m hoping the luck holds out a while longer.

  12. Precise moments — stunning invitation and poignant reminder for the New Year. I am glad I waited a few days after “the holidays” to read ~~ I can look at it more objectively! I love your accompanying photo. Thank you for your visits and words of encouragement, Linda!

    1. In a way, Becca, every stanza is its own small stone. I’m glad you waited a bit to read it, too. It’s in no sense cheerful, or cheering, and yet there’s a realism that I like: not harsh, not frightening, but only “real” as nature is real.

      And I’m glad you like the photo. I’m really fond of it myself. At least in Indianola, the black-sailed ship would have a place to dock. I rather like the thought of a ghostly ship docking at a ghost port!

  13. An Ode to Christmas most definitely. There are very few things that deliver what they promise. Expectation these days is becoming Hype. I blame it on the media – the hype is becoming insane. And yet we all get caught up in it (or most of us do), and depression is sure to follow. January is known for being one of the most miserable months of the year and it doesn’t take a genius to understand why.
    Increasingly I find that if you set out with few or no expectations, then you are likely to find yourself surprised and rewarded. Certainly that is my experience when I go out with my camera – an open mind with no preconceived ideas is fertile ground for image capturing.
    I’m a bit late, Linda, but a very Happy New Year to you, and I look forward to reading your blog entries in the months to come.

    1. The hype and inevitable slump that follows is one reason I’ve come to appreciate Advent as I do. Four weeks set aside precisely for waiting, anticipation, and emptying, tend to counterbalance the commercialism rather nicely.

      I had no smile at your suggestion that fewer expectations can lead to surprises and rewards. I still remember the time in my decades-younger life when I decided to live by the motto: never expect anything, and you’ll never be disappointed. That’s quite a different take on things, and I’m glad the years brought me to the point of agreeing with your experience.

      You’re not late. The year continues on for a full 359 more days. If we’re lucky, every one of them will be filled with new delights, and the year will continue to feel fresh and new. A happy new year to you, Andy.

  14. Well, that poem pretty much sums up my life. Lots of expectations unmet, and most of them weren’t even that lofty. Lots of disappointments among the blessings. But that is the way of most lives. Thankfully, most of us don’t give up hope that each new day will bring something pleasing or hopeful.

    Happiness to you in the New Year, LInda!

    1. Maybe that’s why this poem appeals to me as it does, Susan, and why I chose to post it. It does have a realistic tone, and if anything marks this time of year, it’s a lack of realistic expectations (maybe this Christmas Uncle Winthrop won’t start an argument at the dinner table and whack Amy with a turkey leg) or a lack of realistic resolve (by 2016, I’m going to have lost fifty pounds, learned German, and completely decluttered my house).

      Maybe it is life on the dock that matters, rather than the ship on the horizon. With all of its unmet expectations and disappointments, I’ve found real life still beats utopia. Here’s to a year of real life — and all the unexpected treasures it holds.

  15. Thanks, Linda – I hadn’t come across that one. He is so good at reminding us of our all-too-human frailties and weaknesses, is Larkin. But he does it so beautifully…and being from the land of the Celtic Twilight, I do like a good dose of slightly morbid intimation of mortality now and then…

    1. I find the poem reads slightly differently in light of recent events in France, Anne. Cultures and societies die as surely as individuals, though we tend to image otherwise.

      To the AP and other U.S. outlets who have chosen not to report the full reality of events, I would only say, “Self-censorship doesn’t change reality.” We have become such a fearful society, afraid of expressing our opinions on even the most trivial of issues, lest we be accused of insensitivity or of giving offense.

      You might enjoy this as much as I did.

      I’m glad to have found Larkin. I’ve explored his work a bit more, and “slightly morbid” does just fine. “Gloomy” and “irascible” come to mind as well, along with another quality I haven’t yet found a word for. I keep thinking, “Give this man a good cheeseburger and a beer, and he’d be happier.” Of course, happiness isn’t the only thing important in life, and too many cheeseburgers might have denied us this poem.

  16. That last stanza of Larkin’s poem turns on its head the image of the fishing boat returning to port fully loaded, a raucous caucus of gulls swirling in its wake.

    It also invokes those final words of Hamlet, “The rest is silence..”

    The comment about Larkin’s sparse output brings to mind the first two lines of the (surprisingly short and to the point) poem “Retribution” by Longfellow:

    “Though the mills of God grind slowly;
    Yet they grind exceeding small;
    Though with patience He stands waiting,
    With exactness grinds He all. ”

    We only see the finished product — the poem. We have no inkling as to how long he labored over it, hammer and tongs, until he had beat it into the shape he wanted. Those things that seem effortless all too often are anything but.

    1. There’s a time for beating into shape, for sure, but there’s also waiting for a shape to emerge from the mist. I’d love to know how this one took shape. Maybe the new biography could shed some light. I’d be willing to bet that the image of the black-sailed unfamiliar came along early in the process, and the rest was a process of getting it to the dock — even if it didn’t stop there.

      I work now and then at a marina next to the Clear Creek channel. Returning shrimpers will cull on their way in, attracting hordes of pelicans, cormorants and seagulls. But even on the way out, they stir up the waters, and the birds follow, hoping for a tidbit or two. Imagining no birds, and not even a wake is disturbing.

      A side note: I started wondering about the relationship of the “wake” left by a vessel, and funeral “wakes.” What I found is interesting.

    2. “The Paris Review” just posted an interview done with Larkin. I haven’t read it all yet, but the first paragraphs were fascinating. Suddenly this poet I never had heard of is everywhere. You can read the interview here.

  17. Thanks for sharing this. I remember well the time Cherie told me (we had been married a long time when this happened): “You live only in the future and in the past. Never in the present.” It was one of those things I’d never thought about myself but recognized as true when I heard it. I tried to get better after that.

    Always too eager for the future, we
    Pick up bad habits of expectancy.
    Something is always approaching; every day
    “Till then,” we say,

    A good reminder.

    1. Maintaining a balance can be the hardest thing in the world, Bill.

      When we’re children, there’s so much more future than past in our lives, it’s natural for anticipation and impatience to rule. As we age, and especially as we move into our 70s and 80s, there’s so much more past than future, our focus naturally begins to change. Even in our middle age, the present often gets short shift because of our (quite natural) strivings, and the press of responsibilities.

      But (as I understand it) living in the present doesn’t mean a refusal of time. Instead, it means moving more deeply into time, and history, into the space where past and present meet. That could sound like so much blather, but I don’t think it is. I’ve never forgotten the professor who used Eliot’s “Four Quartets” to explore the meeting of past and future, which he called the redemption of time itself.

      Of course, he also was the one who described Ahab as a man with an infinite grudge against the universe. What’s not to like about that?

  18. Wonderful poem, and it reminds me of two others, right off the bat (to use a very unpoetic cliche).

    First, yup, John Ashbery, in Soonest Mended, http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/177260, and particularly the closing lines:

    Making ready to forget, and always coming back
    To the mooring of starting out, that day so long ago.

    The other is Tomas Tranströmer’s The Sad Gondola, which I can’t find online, but here’s a line from it: “The gondola is heavy-laden with life, it is simple and black.”

    As for the reasons, I can’t really say, but I’m very glad to be sent down this trail of poems by virtue of the marvelous one you chose.

    1. Well,now. Isn’t this interesting? I went looking to confirm the proverb (“least said, soonest mended”) and landed on a 2012 post about this poem of Ashbery’s, where I re-read my very own comment to your musings.

      Neither Friko nor I were particularly impressed then. Today? I find myself reading the poem very differently, as a meditation on going back to the land, trying to trade technology for more earthy realities, Read in that context, the agricultural references add substance, and become understandable in their own right (e.g., “the loose meaning, untidy and simple like a threshing floor”). I was especially caught by this, an experience too well known by farmers throughout history:

      “It was still a shock when, almost a quarter of a century later,
      The clarity of the rules dawned on you for the first time.
      They were the players, and we who had struggled at the game
      Were merely spectators…”

      There is no owning, he seems to say: not of land, not of words, not of houses or family or gardens or music. In the end, there’s no owning of life. Hence, the appropriateness of this:

      “For this is action, this not being sure, this careless
      Preparing, sowing the seeds crooked in the furrow,
      Making ready to forget, and always coming back
      To the mooring of starting out, that day so long ago.”

      Ah, those breadcrumbs. Sometimes they’re far tastier than we could imagine!

  19. The Paris Review interview is delightful! I never had heard of Philip Larkin, but I think I would have liked him as a person. The poem that you have quoted here has haunted my thoughts all week.

    1. I thought that review was great, too, NumberWise. I suppose you’ve read up above that I never had heard of Larkin until I found this poem — or, at least, his name hadn’t stayed with me if he was included in some curriculum or other.

      He seems to have been quirky, but aren’t we all? I think I would have liked him, too. There are some of his poems I don’t find particularly congenial, but that’s true for anyone I read. If I can roll my eyes at parts of Eliot, no one’s safe.

      I’m really glad you liked the poem, and that I could introduce it to you.

    1. That’s a good word, I think.I’d say the same about the last stanza. In between, the poem just bobs along, before sneaking up and delivering those last lines.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. You’re always welcome.


  20. I loved the poem but am really intoxicated by the photo. The bleeding of blue into brown on the dock is really rather fetching. I wonder if good photos, as good poems, somehow allow us to attend to the harmony of past, present and future as we find ourselves absorbing the whole of the photo in this detail, or that.

    1. Allen, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your words about the photo. I’m trying this year to learn my new camera, and learn more about taking photos with manual settings rather than simply resorting to auto. This is one where I tried to keep the foreground sharp, but leave the background a little out of focus, and when I discovered that I had managed to do it, I was pretty darned happy.

      Of course, out of the forty or so photos I shot at this spot, I only kept about six. On the other hand, I have those six, and the memory of what I did then surely will inform what I do in the future.

      As for the color, I agree with you about its attractiveness. And there’s this: from the road, on a gray and drizzly day, there was no indication that the dock was anything more than one more gray, mouldering dock. Only after I stopped, walked down to the water and took a closer look did I see its color. There’s a lesson there, methinks!

      1. Well, congratulations then! Glad to hear of this. One of the great blessings (and banes in some ways too) of digital cameras is this ability to take 40 shots without having to pay to develop them all. Yes, there are many color lessons to be learned in life!

    1. Thank you, ma’am! The more I look at this, the more I like it. Of course, taking a photo of a stationary dock has a lot of advantages. Some day, maybe I’ll be able to get some decent photos of birds and assorted other bayou creatures that move around a whole lot more — you’re the best, when it comes to that.

  21. Love your photo, Linda, I supposed you took that with your new camera? And thanks for the poem to ponder. After over a month of extreme stress, I’ve finally come back out to the blogosphere. Hope this can continue. A lot to catch up. :)

    1. It’s good to see you, Arti. Ease in slowly — it takes time to recover, and time to re-engage.

      Yes, that is the new camera at work. Even on a cloudy, drizzly day, I thought the photo came out well. I have another photo taken years — decades! — ago of a pier and boathouse on Matagorda Island. It’s gone now, and has been for many years. Maybe I have the beginning of a collection of pier photos: not the famous ones, but the hidden-away ones from the past.

      I’m glad you like the photo, but I’m even more glad to see you.

  22. A thoughtful post. Are we indeed always searching a new voyage, until we are finally caught up by the last one? Maybe staying put in a harbour would do us good from time to time. A lovely photo, by the way.

    1. It is true that sailing’s hard work. A time in port here and there for rest and re-provisioning isn’t the worst thing in the world. A cruising friend laughs and says she calls her occasional time in harbors (rather than anchored out) “vacation.”

      Thanks for the kind words about the photo. I tried using manual settings to blur the horizon, and I was happy with the result. Actually, I was surprised by how well it turned out.

    1. Many thanks, Jack. I’m edging more and more toward a field you love — history — and am finding it rather like Alice’s rabbit hole. One thing leads to another, as you so well know.

      Life is good. Like everyone, I’m ready for a bit of spring, but not too much at once. We don’t need the fruit trees getting bitten again this year.

      Again, sorry to hear about Star. I know you have good memories.


      1. Last week as I was covering the Old Cattle Kingdom in history class, I used Walter Prescott Webb’s description of the origin of the kingdom south of San Antonio, a diamond-shaped area with SA to the north, Brownsville to the south, Laredo to the west, and Indianola to the east. Really fine work of yours. Are you getting it published elsewhere?

        1. Not at this point. But I am starting to toy with the idea. I don’t think about it on a daily basis, but it does cross my mind from time to time. I do have an idea for a four-part piece that would be unique, Texas-related and made to order for travel magazines, etc. I think that will be my spring project, and I may pitch it elsewhere before posting it on the blog.

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