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The last day of the season

It’s the last day of the season. The harbours are empty save for a few stragglers in denial of another year coming to a close. We are among those whose sailing boat is still in the water, still dreaming of one final magical day out when we can sail in a brisk breeze with warm sunlight at our backs to a place where we’d be secure in a secluded cove with no worries at all. At this time of year, the light takes on a silvery glow, not unlike moonlight. Its warmth dissipates the instant the sun dips beneath the horizon.

It’s this time of year when the colours along the shore are vivid, the air is crisp and cool, and everything is being put in order for the winter months to come. The wildlife is scurrying to provide for a long season of frugality. The leaves are dropping. The fish are finding deeper waters. We are procrastinating so we can witness this annual event of putting to bed.

For many this is a sad time, when darkness equates with depression and heaviness of spirit. For me it is a signal that it is time to take a breath and relax before the next great flurry of activity to achieve something, whatever that something is.

I love the fall. I love breathing in the scents of shore life – the smell of apples baking inside, decorator pies wafting out the still open windows, spiced soups and complex stews steaming on the stovetops, fragrant smoke being carried far from fires lit in fireplaces ashore for the first time of the season. I love bringing out the heavy blankets and sweaters and casting off the flimsy garb of summer. But most of all, I love the colours of the leaves as they make their last stand against the approaching frost. 

I also love the flurry of activity along the shore as the wildlife prepares for the winter months which seem to be getting more severe as we march boldly into climate change. I love to row ashore and find a quiet spot to take part in this annual ritual. If I sit very quietly, I can observe this flurry of activity without notice. Mice are building their nests with colourful strings of wool stolen from someone’s unravelled blanket. Geese are picking at the leftovers in fields in ever smaller formations. The birds that are wintering over are pruning the trees of their berries. Soon the raucous will subside and quiet will spread over the land. Soon the land may be covered with a blanket of snow that absorbs all sound and ensures that the sleeping animals remain undisturbed until spring.

We have a leisurely sail to a distant cove where we drop anchor and spend a lovely fall evening below deck reading by headlamp, snuggled under amazingly warm sleeping bags made of lofty materials. The air below is warm as dinner baked in the oven warmed up the main cabin to a toasty level. We sway gently in the breeze as the night swallows the day. We fall asleep to thoughts of another magical day imprinted in our memories, realizing that if we hadn’t ventured out, we’d have missed witnessing it at all.

In the morning, we awake to a different motion. We’ve become so attuned to our boat that any change is instantly picked up by our senses which send us into alert level orange.  We open the hatch and note that the wind has picked up just enough to make for an interesting return passage. Could we have asked for any more?  Our last day out may prove to be one of our best.

And so it happens. We have a leisurely breakfast to fortify our bodies and slowly prepare to sail the distance to where we, too, will be putting the boat to sleep for the winter.  We pull up our anchor, raise our sails, and venture out of the secluded harbour into the open waters of the bay. The sun is shining, the wind is blowing a steady 20 knots in just the right direction, and we fly along the coast, smiles broadening our perspectives and imprinting the day on our souls.

A prayer of thanks to the gods of the seas and winds for giving us this amazing day. We will cherish this feeling of joy forever.



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