I’m typing quietly this morning, friends.
Thick darkness outside, my housemates are still clinging to sleep. All except Bear – I poked her awake and insisted she join me downstairs. She’s been a loyal companion in my writing room all winter, reliably sprawled in front of the propane fireplace while I type, and I want her to share this final morning.
Today is our transition. With a four hour flight, our lives shift abruptly from spacious house on soil to cramped cabin at sea. When we first get settled aboard and the small wheelhouse radiates warmth from the galley’s diesel stove, I’ll view “cramped” as “cozy,” and relieved peace will seep through my body. I’ll feel a wave of affection for the vessel that, for the next six months, will be our everything. Home, workplace. At her best, a trusted friend who ensures our safety in an environment where humans don’t belong. At her worst… Well, something less than a trustworthy friend.
Having such a clearly defined, bi-annual switch between lives lends itself to reflections of what we’re saying goodbye to. On my 24th season of this migrant life, I’m an old pro at leaving, but have felt unusually ambivalent this year. So I take special pleasure with this last coffee and English muffin – neither come out as tasty on the boat – and consider the past week’s bittersweet observations.
The sizzle of chopped onions hitting the hot skillet – won’t hear that for a while. Even when you let a pan sit on the stove’s “hot spot” – right above the diesel flame – nothing ever comes to a full sizzle or rolling boil.
Damn… didn’t get a bath while I still had access to a tub. The only showers from here on out will be infrequent and in the fish plant’s communal stalls.
We didn’t eat enough Thai food this winter. Upon that realization, we splurged on take-out Pad Kee Mao twice, to tide us through the six month drought.
Save that quarter. Between fishing trips, we’ll haul loads of ripe laundry to the Laundromat.
I’ll miss this bed. Say goodbye to sprawling across the queen-size acreage. Carved of peculiar geometrics to curve with the hull, our foam bunk is an optimistic double at the shoulders, but tapers to a tangled, tight squeeze at the foot.
Bear’s not gonna like this. Our girl’s preferred water source is directly from the tap. With the Nerka’s limited water supply to carry us through two-week trips, she won’t get that option.
This migration requires adaptation from all of us. But turned inside-out, regrets reveal gifts, and my attitude shifts to giddy anticipation.
The Backdoor Café! Bernadette and Sotera! Forget the English muffin; I’ll be having pie with my coffee tomorrow morning.
Ravens! My yard birds and squirrels have been faithful visitors, but my heart belongs to Sitka’s hefty corvids.
Friends! In a community of 9000, even strangers are familiar faces. One of my favorite touchstones of returning is seeing people I don’t know by name, but whose continued presence assures me I’m home.
Home. Enough said.
Be well, friends – we’ll catch you on the other side.