Wednesday, December 24, 2008
A Tenuous Moorage at The Mouth of the River
The dark prospect of my own mortality was first impressed upon me at age six. I may have previously considered my own demise in theory, and who would be sorry, but only as an abstraction. It was forty-nine years ago, and that is a startling fact to begin with, that the child who lived on this boat died. The outfit that she lived with, amongst whom were her parents, was a collection of beach bums and ne'er do wells that had accumulated on this old fishboat. It was precariously moored where the sand spilled from the river delta and formed a beautiful beach about a quarter mile south. The moorage was built with raw logs beachcombed from along the coast and strapped together with planks scavenged from the throwaway pile of a local mill. It was darn near impossible for me to navigate this floating catwalk, but the pigtailed zephyr whose future was compressed, sailed over it to the beach and explained the tactics necessary for successful passage into the world of wonder that was that old boat. First time I ever saw a surf board or someone take a crab out of a trap or glass floats or a whole bunch of other exotic stuff. I don't remember much about her parents or if I even met them, but I will remember her always. She had strawberry blonde hair, according to my dad, blue eyes and freckles which is the standard issue description of a type of beautiful child, but that was incidental to the thing that was so striking about her. She could sing, plain and simple. It was miraculous to me that a child could sing in clear, melodic, wonderfully coloured voice at six...now maybe she couldn't sing very well at all but she sure sounded good to me. She sang songs that her parents must have taught her, songs she heard on the radio, songs from movies..."Who's That Doggy in the Window?" being a favourite.
Summer over and I was in grade one, the fall of 1959, when my mom told me that she had died. I learned later that it was from meningitis. The whole motley crew abandoned the boat and it sat there for at least thirty years until it was gone. The circumstances of her death must have been horrible for everybody concerned.
Bink to explode.