Simply Messing About Anytime, Anywhere, It’s All Good

I’ve gotten used to not having much snow about. When you get it hanging around for a week or so it makes you nostalgic for Spring. I see the canoe on it’s saw horses with a blanket of white and get chilled to the marrow. The antidote for the time being is to sit at my little desk with a hot cup of something and rub two brain cells together for a little internal warmth. Equally good is to sit by the fire with a favorite book that bears a philosophy befitting sunnier times.

“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolute nothing — half so much
worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing… about in boats — or
with boats. In or out of ’em, it doesn’t matter. Nothing seems really to matter,
that’s the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you
arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never
get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular;
and when you’ve done it there’s always something else to do, and you can do it if
you like, but you’d much better not.”

Kenneth Grahame’s passage from The Wind In The Willows has become a cliche among sailors.  Chances are you have it on a coffee mug or a tee shirt, but the meaning still holds up. There must have been a touch of Thoreau in Ratty. He places the idea of simplicity as a useful lifestyle in exactly the right setting, “in boats — or with boats. In or out of ’em, it doesn’t matter.”  We die-hard escapists are equally content with building or repairing a suitable craft, preparing for a day afloat or running before the wind with the sun shining on our backs. The smell of salty sea air blends well with wood shavings and spar varnish. The love of boats is as uncomplicated as hormonal attraction and as constant as the north star.

Snow also possesses a power of long term nostalgia.  Whirling white flakes remind me of coming alongside the dock in Rockland, Maine bringing a schooner into it’s winter berth.  The flurries were foretelling the early arrival of Jack frost.  A few weeks later I was driving from my home in Pennsylvania to Mystic Connecticut for a maritime history symposium through a determined snowfall.  My insistence on not putting Dragonsong on the hard before my birthday at the end of November gave me several opportunities to enjoy the magical silence of falling snowflakes while afloat.

I have spent my time this week driving in the snow and sledding with my Grandson. I also played about in the shop with a half model project and spent a bit of time at the drawing board planning a wee boat that might be built sometime before the bankers come around and strip me down completely. There is more than enough passion to go around in this world. It comes in a million different flavors. For me it’s all about boats, every bit of it, so it’s all good. This land-locked Winter day gave me snow and memories. Afterward there was indeed something else to do, if I liked but I’d much better not.  So, I didn’t.

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