Thursday, February 26, 2004

Holy water and a wooden boat

Tonight was one of those magic nights. The electronic surf was perfect and washed up an online conversation to be marked in my memory. We talked about what it was that made us what we are today.

For my part, I spoke of holy water, the river that I grew up next to, a river worthy of both love and respect. Powerful water, the Mississippi. Where I lived, not so deep, but wide and fast. Anyone that has spent time with her claims her. But, she is a wonder and wild and will never really be owned by anyone. Navigated, yes, but not contained. She is not a tame river at all.

Time with "my river" was mostly spent in the safety of an old flat bottomed wooden house boat that my father named "Sunny". I always believed that he named her after the song of that name. Maybe instead, it was a wish for a certain forecast painted in golden letters and surrounded by rounded 70's vintage flowers that show up from time to time now, mostly on VW bugs.

The particulars of my boat on the river were that a barge maker named Fred Kahkie crafted her in 1945. She was powered by a straight eight Grey Marine engine that I can still hear rumble in my memory. Slow, she was slow but powerful enough to navigate the Mississippi against the current and in full flood.

Like so much that our parents give us, I did not realize that spending time in the safety of that hand crafted wooden boat on one of the great rivers of the world was something that few people experience. The family got older, "Sunny" was sold, and I have not stood on the shores of "my river" in almost 15 years. I remember. I hope that my "Sunny" is still navigating powerful waters with a Captain at the wheel that loves her as my father did.

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