Archive:  Year 2 - Tuesday, April 22, 2008 #18: "Undone"

The Road is naked.  It happened very suddenly yesterday.  I knew that I had a bulk of the day off – nothing planned until 8PM.  The forecast was for temperatures in the 70’s and clear skies until a light rain at night.  It appeared as if it was going to be ideal for a boat-stripping.  I moved forward with cautious optimism – if the pattern held, it really could snow any second.  As things began to get rolling, however, it appeared to really be happening.  Finally!  The blessed day I can slice out of the thick, white plastic that has separated me from the air for over five months.

Since November, I have unzipped a plastic door and then squeezed between a plastic sheet and plastic insulation every time I entered (or exited) my house.  The amount of static electricity generated, could have run four, average-sized, households for over 72 hours.  Every grocery bag, every bin of laundry, every case of beer… squeezed, as if down the throat of a great snake.  

But today, it’s all different.  Bright, warm light pours in through every window; sunlight and air are the first things I encounter when I open my door.  I had leapt over the railing and onto the dock several times before I even took note of it.  Getting used to the plastic-wrap takes weeks, getting used to it’s absence takes seconds.  So marvelous.

Originally, the plan was to simply remove the insulation and to leave the plastic wrap for one more day.  The overnight forecast was for rain and I feared that I wasn’t quite ready for a downpour of water… Cracks could have started in the harsh cold temperatures, what if the windows aren’t sealed, oh god, I’ll sink!  

I went out the door, squeezed between the plastic and the boat and began to pull off the long sheets of insulation which line the walls.  What lied underneath was no less amazing than a beating heart.  My boat.  There she was.  I hadn’t seen her since before Thanksgiving… I leaned on her like she was an old mule and sighed heavily.  

I had done something wise back when she was wrapped and today I reaped the promised benefits.  Before I hung the insulation, I made a point of scrubbing down the boat and making her as shiny as possible.  Taking the insulation off was like unwrapping a lovely new present.  It suddenly became clear that the fucking plastic had to go too.  The ease with which I could suddenly imagine her at her summer-peak almost sliced through the plastic on it’s own.  I got out the exacto knife and got incredibly excited.  

A first mate arrived about noon to help out.  We planned a loose strategy over a beer and struggled against a slight breeze before successfully removing the whole damn thing.  It was really simple – a few slices of cord and the thing that had been a most-needed barrier separating me and my home from the brutal elements, was tied up and discarded; tossed into a few sad piles on the dock.  

The skeleton remained – the loose wooden spine and connecting cord, on top of which the plastic had been stretched.  Half an hour later, it was all dismantled and the boat blinked back her first naked moments.  

There are already spiders.

At the first serious tug on a corner of the insulation, a spindly black body dropped and limped to cover.  I don’t know if the consistently dropping creatures were survivors from the whole winter – brave, and hungry children of long-forgotten (and likely devoured) parents.  Or if they were new arrivals, crawling up from other nests – the pioneers of the next generation.  In any case, I killed every single one I saw.  

Proper moments of reverie are generally infrequent for me.  But it was truly hypnotic to stand aboard my house and feel like I’ve just moved to another planet.  Granted, this is my second Spring, but the un-wrapping from last year was altogether less impressive.  Like everything from last year on the river, it was my “first time” at it. By late March,  a boat or two in the marina had braved the timeline and began to unwrap, so  I asked Captain D and some of the marina crew if they could help me with mine.  Springing to work in an efficient, grunting mass, they ripped the boat clean in about 20 minutes and left both she and I standing there shivering.  All of my stored crap suddenly laid bare, sticky strips of tape clung like scar tissue from the windows.  It was rather mortifying actually.

A moment here must be taken to note the experience of men at work.  I am currently rehearsing a show called Mom’s The Word – a cast of five women discussing and dissecting what it is to be a mother.  The show’s themes, and rehearsals themselves, are an experiment in estrogen-isity.  Women working together, as women generally do, with a lot of discussion, expression, suggestion, compromise.  At the same time, as the marina comes alive, there appear small packs of men working together to summerize their fishing boats, their pontoons, their “party barges”.  Inevitably they must go directly in front of my bow to launch the boat in the water.  Between now and about July, I forget television even exists.

Most of the time there are three of them – one driving the truck backwards down the ramp, and one pointing, squinting and grunting appropriately, while the last one dodges around eager for an opportunity to spring to rescue.  What follows is a list of common first-launch mishaps. 

1. Improper footwear.  This typically is displayed in an over enthusiastic step from the dock to the boat.  A flip flop on top of slightly dusty vinyl does not a secure step make.  

2. Dragging lower units.  While all interpretations of this term apply, it is most typically displayed when a boat is being launched which has not raised it’s outboard motor.  The result is the metal blades grinding along the concrete launch.  If caught right away (and it usually is with a burst of cursing and stomping) there is minimal damage.  For me, as my bed is below the waterline, such a sound is enough to turn your spine.   I’ll wake up to it most weekends for a few weeks… I debated hanging a sign that says “Don’t forget your lower units”  or “Raise your motor”.  There was no good way to do it without making my boat look like a whorehouse, so I’m just going to endure the noise.  

3. Exceptional drunkenness.  It is only when the harsh sound of blades along stone stops and an explosive laughter follows that I really worry.  It makes the cooler 10 times more likely to fall into the river.  It makes the emergency brake 7 times less likely to be on.  It makes the gas tank 12 times more likely to be empty.  The like.  

And it’s fine.  The spiders, the leaking windows, the drunkies… Summer has it’s own batch of hard stuff .  As a matter of fact, there are plenty of things about Winter down here I even prefer.  But it is going to take me a gooood long time to remember exactly what those are.  

And just when I think the summer can get no more real, I successfully hang my hammock.  Warm air, creaking sound of the hammock… Soon the carp will start knocking gently on the hull, and after a little more rain, the island will blossom.  

Hot damn.  

Next Post: June 21, 2008 #22: "Solstice"

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