Monday, July 5, 2010


JULY 4, 2010

Independence Day, 2010 will be over now in forty minutes. My wife and daughters are in Ohio visiting family so Emmet, my 15-year-old son, and I have been roughing it for a couple of weeks. The girls should be back Tuesday.

It’s the first July 4 we’ve ever spent here without the whole family being here, but Sundae’s mom passed away suddenly on March 2 and there were some things she had to take care of. We did a lot of the things we always do on the fourth: went and looked at the antique cars on the Pony Island Motel lawn. Turned out we were too late to see the sky divers who’d already landed safely by the time we got there. Never made it out to the beach to see the sand sculptures. And, since 4-year-old Mariah Daisy wasn’t here, we didn’t even bother to go see the wild ponies.

I even broke a long-standing tradition and took a couple of sailing tours out on my new schooner. My policy, since about 13 years ago has been to take the 4th off. Seems like half the people who signed up to sail with us in those days didn’t show up and the half that did were so wasted that I wished they hadn’t! “If you can’t lick ‘em, join ‘em” became my Independence Day motto.

Yesterday afternoon, Emmet and his buddy Andrew woke me up from my afternoon nap and said they had an idea for a float for the parade. “The deadline has already passed for registering,” I told them.

“Call Tom and see if we can still enter,” they pleaded.

I did and Tom said, “Heck with the deadline! The more the merrier. Make sure your float is at the Sweet Tooth by 2 p.m.”

I drove the boys to the dump in the Ford pickup truck I own a third of and we rounded up lots of cardboard then stopped by the hardware store for duct tape, paint, sharpie markers and candy. Back at the house we cut up an old sail from the original schooner Windfall.
By supper time the truck was sporting a gaff schooner rig complete with the helm, hatch cover and side lights of my old girl.

This morning, after finishing his bussing job at one of the restaurants, Emmet donned my pirate suit and rounded up a couple of saucy young pirate wenches to join him on the truck throwing candy, gold coins and Windfall tattoos to the crowds. I drove and my left leg is still killing me from riding the clutch!

The good news is that we won the prize for Best Business Float. The $50 check might possibly cover our expenses!

When Emmet strolled in at 11 p.m. as agreed, I showed him a passage from a book I’d picked up at the library used book sale yesterday. It was a brief contribution by Raymond Carver called, “My Boat.” He read it, handed it back to me and said, “Yeah.”

I told him there’s something about sailing that’s wildly addictive and that that passage sort of described it. I said it’s what keeps me doing what I do and that on tonight’s trip I felt like a little of it got communicated to the folks we had on board. Four of the six of them had sailed on the older schooner and confided upon leaving that they’d liked this one better. Emmet said, “I know what you’re talking about and I get it when we’re cruising more than I do on our short trips.”

I thought of Lord Nelson’s final words at Trafalgar: “Thank God, I have done my duty!”

Happy Independence Day!