Because the Parts Were There

You can't cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water. Don't let yourself indulge in vain wishes.                                                             -- Rabindranath Tagore


Over the Bounding Maine

Summers on the Southern coast of Maine are as close to Heaven as one can get. I should know because the dreams I had staying during summer vacations at my grandmother's place on Israel's Head would turn into nightmares when they involved returning back to school. She had her own little beach, formed from a crescent of rocks rising as a bluff that her house commanded, full of rounded basalt and granite stones that gave way to a small segment of sand that waxed and waned as storms would allow.

Ogunquit: Native American for
Beautiful Place by the Sea

The Marginal Way crossed along the edge of the little cliff, and crossed her front yard and continued for miles along the rocky coast until its end at the old lobster shacks turned into restaurants and shoppes at Perkin's Cove. Looking from this path taking the other direction to the Village, an observer gazing at the panoramic vista to the Northeast, after regaining their breath after the azure expanse of the cold Atlantic, would see the Ogunquit River as it makes its 'L' shaped turn behind the sand dunes of the Big Beach and join the sea right in front of our cottage. When the tide went out, that expedited current could sweep you out to sea, and was always reiterated by my grandmother. She was the one who also always warned us not to go in the water before an hour after eating or you'll get cramps.

The Beam in One's Eye

One of those hazy halcyon days my two cousins and I must have noticed, in more than the askanced casual way, the bleached logs and planks washed ashore from some dock disaster from who knows how long or far ago. Since a few boards were nailed together on one of the quite hefty beams, the epiphany of adventure came into being: we could build a raft!

Too Much Like Work

Swearing ourselves to secrecy, as we knew what Victorian punishment would be meted out on acts of piracy, and hated to endure by her majesty -- Grandmother -- , we began the task at hand. Actually we rather more abhorred the Cotton Mather styled lecture that accompanied than whatever other sanction might be applied. After the three of us struggled with bringing and adding the smaller flotsam over to the more substantial bulkhead, we now had to wait for high tide to realistically launch our vessel. The trick was to lift the heavy wood down to the water to be able to cast away. Lance, the husky first born of my father's sister, finding the means, with some absconded rope from I know not where, gave orders as the Huckleberry Finn of our group whilst me and my other aunt's eldest, Terry, took up the role of Tom Sawyer and Jim, respectively.

Lunar and Fulcrum Dockworkers

Finally the moon became our helpmate, and while utilizing techniques borrowed from Nile technicians, we used large sticks as levers to pry the six by six contraption towards the rising water. Surging waves sometimes set us back, with our hard work lurching the raft in reverse back onto the rock laden beach. Not to be dismayed or swayed from the call of the sea, risking crushed or bruised feet and legs, we finally were able to unwedge the craft free of its landlubbering coil as we fortuitously caught a cresting undulation that pulled it up and out.

Mal Voyage

We jumped on the lilting float, coincidentally at the same time it began to pick up speed with the current that had logarithmically increased after the tide turned. We were free, the shore seemed distant, and the water below turned dark with it's ominous depth. We looked ahead to where we were headed, perhaps our frows began to indent as the quickening pace was arcing out to the more open ocean and even deeper and turbulent surf.

Good News or Bad News First?

Should we hold on until we can get of the the river stream, and get into the regular surf to ride it back to our beach, or should we abandon ship, now? The dark hard rock sticking out of the water, the one that at low tide leaves a tidal pool large enough to swim in, was looming ahead like some armored prehistoric behemoth, and it was decision time. The ride had been quick and short, and now it was approaching its catastrophic denouement. The choice to feel the crunching beneath or amongst one's feet, or to jump into the unknown deep swirling around called for almost instantaneous response to the query from the dilemma.

"Abandon Ship!" was chorused by: "Jump for it!"

In tandem, we jumped, adrenaline pumped, the water was like ice cubes, but my swimming lessons in the cold Ogunquit River some years ago paid off, as panicked limbs thrashed in panic] to reach the shore before my feet dragged the rest of me under. I had tested the theory to its maximum potential of the floatation power of salt water, I always sunk like an anchor, and I knew if I stopped moving all limbs as fast as I could, Davy Jones would become my new playmate. Fear of being swept out to sea impelled us towards shore, in spite of the tidal flow, and just as we turned around on the bank, we witnessed the raft that we had worked on for days smashed unceremoniously upon the impediment, and its several pieces went on their journey without us.

The Debriefing

We went back up to the house, full of exhilaration from mixed feelings of our adventure. The story got out of our escapade, and our parents were only upset that it exasperated the chronic neurosis of grandmother.

The story would have taken epic tragic proportions if she had told her version of the story, but there would not be enough nodegel.

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