Sunday, January 4, 2004

The Water

I went out recently in the waters southeast of Miami, on our sailboat in the late afternoon of a winter day in these tropics. The sky was still a brilliant blue as we idled through the channel leading to open main; on the rocks jutting up from the surface in low tide stood hundreds of birds, gulls and herons, biding their time and watching us go by. A daytime moon hovered above, pale and full, growing brighter as the sky faded with the hours. When we cut the engine, all that remained to us was the sound of wind blowing across the waves---the jumbled land noise that we don't even realize is constantly around us, was muted, leaving a contemplative peace in that now free part of my brain.

With a white wake behind, and only the undulating swells in front, we glided to the north, where in shrouded distances one could make out the tall buildings of Miami. The sun was setting in a crimson blaze, igniting the clouds lying on the horizon and painting striations of pink and brown and white on the tarrying tail of the day's sky. And then night came upon us, and the moon shone brightly enough so that I could see my shadow dimly on the faded white deck of our boat, and the wind becalmed so that all was in quiet.

In tropical climes, the clouds have a way of catching the last bit of light, and they look like streaks of glowing paint brushed onto the firmament, silhouetting in black the land and trees, and littler things we make. So was the world we saw as our sails carried us back to the docks and dry land, eager for our comforts yet begrudging to leave that potent briney atmosphere. For those who have been long near the sea, its expanses of water come into one's mind and spread themselves out beneath conscious thought, rumbling and echoing and always drawing one back to their shores.

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