Every morning: wake up, stretch, head outside, sunrise salutations, hoop, go to work. So predictable. So unvarying. So monotonous? No, just like snowflakes, each morning is rare and wonderful.
The tide has been out in the early hours, and so the float at Seal Harbor Beach is firmly planted in the sand. Downward dog as a lobster boat hums its way through the boats out of the harbor. Gulls are taking baths, squealing like young children as they splash in the stream that empties into the sea. Cobra pose, and the sun filtering though the water emphasizes the rippled patterns in the sandy bottom.
Then the latte and oatmeal I’d grabbed from the Coffee Shop in Seal Harbor. Not just a latte and oatmeal, but a perfect frothy just-enough-roast-flavor latte, and oatmeal that was slowly cooked, with raisins, brown sugar and creamy hot milk from the espresso machine. I laze on the float, tide still far out, and spoon the thick oatmeal into my mouth. Bliss.
Nine years ago I was here with my mom and dad. Dad was eighty-one and had enthusiastically encouraged my purchase of a light Kevlar kayak. He had made a kayak himself when he was in high school, curving wood over steam for the frame, covering it with canvas, and carving Greenland style oars from pieces of Sassafras the interested owner of the lumberyard had given him. Drip guards were beautifully knotted on either end. He gave me one of them, and promised me the other. We launched from this beach, and paddled out into the waves. Mom, who never learned to swim, stretched out on the float I am now resting on, waved us off, and picked up her book.
Dad, always a modest man, said, “It’s been a while,” as he dipped the oars and practiced a turn. We were in no hurry. We stayed close to the coast, and soon dad was paddling along, smooth shallow dips moving him forward. “Old paddle still works pretty good, doesn’t it?” It did indeed. “Next time I’ll bring up the other paddle, so we can each use one.” We headed back into the harbor, and saw Mom, small in the distance, stand up on the float and wave. Then she turned and saw the stretch of water between her and the sand. She sat back down, peeled off her stockings, picked up book, shoes, and bag, balanced them on her head, and stepped cautiously off the float. The water was above her knees and cold. We watched her concentrating on her steps, then saw her suddenly lurch and fall. The water closed over her head. Dad and I paddled furiously. One brief eternity later her head popped out of the water. She shook it furiously. We stopped paddling a moment, relief overwhelming us both, and forcing out bubbles of shocked laughter. We looked at each other. “It could go either way,” dad said.
We paddled in, assessing her, and doing our best to smother our laughter. She knew, though, and looked at us. It was impossible to tell her mood. “We only laughed out of surprise, we couldn’t help it,” I offered. And, “We paddled as hard as we could.”
She nodded, expressionless. We held our breaths. Then she smiled and shook her head. “What a mess I am, and it was a library book, too.” We hustled mom to the car, holding up a blanket as a makeshift dressing room, and helped her peel off her wet things. Rubbed, then wrapped in a towel, we packed up gear, and hurried home.
Another morning, another memory, stretches at the beach. Time to go to work. Namaste.