Cure for insomnia

By Phil Crossman | May 19, 2017

Jack Waterbury passed away last week. He was a former military pilot and had retired from flying jets commercially since.

About 30 years ago, when Jack was in his 50s, he was my date on a canoeing trip with two other couples on Lobster Lake, just west of Mount Katahdin. Each day he struggled to keep up. Well, he was, after all, years older than the rest of us, but his boat rode a little low in the water ,too. On the other hand, we figured if it was taking on water he’d certainly notice it.

That night we pulled our boats ashore and made camp, built a nice fire, cooked some steaks, had several beers, told stories and sang songs. Eventually we turned in. One half of one of those other couples snores like a freight train. He and his long-suffering companion were in the next tent (too close). Jack and I lay reading, hoping the snoring would stop or that his other half would smother him so we’d all be able to sleep. But it continued and, while Jack was dozing off, I couldn’t.

He offered to help and at first I was afraid he was going to rub my back or sing to me. Instead, he crawled out to his kayak and reached in under the bow. Those of you who have known Jack well during the last 30 years know he wasn’t terribly well organized and was likely to put something down in a place he could never expect to find it again. He didn’t find what he was looking for this time, either, not on the first try, but instead pulled out a circular saw. Grumbling, he set that aside, reached in again and this time retrieved a little metal tool box and a selection of socket wrenches. I marveled at his having paddled around all day with all that unneeded weight.

Then, no less a marvel, he found what he was looking for and returned to the tent with a book of poetry by Robert Frost. He sat next to me reading poems till I fell asleep.

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