Friday Evening

By Bill Roesing | Sep 12, 2010

On a recent August Friday evening, at the end of a perfect crystal clear and quiet day, I had a fabulous time doing absolutely nothing. I did not even do the one thing I supposed to do, which was to bring the food.

It began with Kathrin Seitz asking me to write a piece for Voices, perhaps something more about being from away. Spotting an opportunity, I suggested that I could write something about my first time sailing here on a private boat. I had, of course, sailed many times on the wonderful schooners in the decades of visiting. But now that I am a resident, it was time for the quiet serenity of a sailboat, knowing that Kathrin's husband had just such a boat.

The deal was cut. The date was set. I thought she said to bring some white wine. Apparently she said that I should bring some snacks because they were bringing wine.

With a 6 p.m. sail time I arrived at the Yacht Club an hour early.

It was so peaceful. The club was preparing for a wedding. I sat on one of the white chairs on the lawn by the water, joined only be a gray and brown seagull, who fed from the bugs on the grass for the entire hour.

The first thing I noticed was how quiet the harbor is compared to the bustle of Bay View Street. It is not the unsettling absence of a dead silence. Rather, it is the fulfilling background tone from an activity that does not make unnecessary noise. Yes, motors occasionally rumble, but soon they were gone. Those with wind power just slipped by. It was so humanizing.

By 6 p.m., the party was about to launch and so were we. My hosts arrived with wine. Uh oh. I was supposed to bring the food.

For an evening planned to do nothing, things began to move rather quickly. We motored out to the boat on the club launch. Everyone was quite concerned about my balance getting aboard and once underway, staying aboard. I appreciated that.

There was no food aboard. Fortunately, sailing is a sport that apparently requires ingenuity and quick thinking. This moment was no exception. My captain and his bride knew that his son was leading the catering for the wedding. Soon a lovely platter was aboard with an arrangement that I am sure fell short of out-right piracy.

It was decided to not actually sail, a decision that brilliantly enhanced the glory of the setting and the tranquility of the evening. We watched the setting sun paint the hills from an ever-changing palette of greens. The scores of boats provided that own color scheme of reds, white and blues.

As the sun set we called for the launch and returned to shore.

It was a beautiful introduction to the peace and beauty of Camden Harbor.

By the way, if any of my fellow Voices wish to get aboard, I recommend that you write away and skip the shopping.

Kathrin reacted to the first draft of this piece by writing: "We will cast off next time. You think sitting in the quiet is great. Wait till you experience gliding across the waves alone on your own boat."

I have a hunch that if I ever reach the day when I have a boat in the harbor, I will be far less "from away." When I started my musings about those two words I knew that they applied to me.

But when does the end of 42 years of just visiting begin to translate into a more advanced status? I fear a boat won't do it because a house hasn't; nor, really, should it. I am from away. I have noticed recently that I tend to tell people that I am from Chicago despite a 36-year residency in our nation's capital.

It is about roots, after all. Someone recently told me that she "heard" those roots when I pronounced the word "measure" may-sure.

Yesterday, while walking down Free Street, a visitor asked if I was a "local." I answered, "pretty much." Am I right?

 

 

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