A Day At Winter’s Edge

A Late Autumn Cruise On the RSV Aimless

Out on the North Sound on a cloudy, chilly, rainy day… a day that will most
likely become the standard day for the next 5-6 months. This will be my
last trip out here until next May… I no longer do well in the wet chill of the
great Northwest – especially out on Puget Sound by myself, waiting for a
breeze to blow me slowly back to shore.

Then why am i here now? Oh, I love it out here, of course… and in the deep
of Autumn there’s never anyone here except me… which could unnerve me
except that I can always paddle. The solitude is almost deafening, the
peacefulness almost overwhelming, and the power of it all sets my mind in
strange and unpredictable directions that never seem to happen on land.

Today, for instance, I’m inside the tent, fire crackling nicely in the little stove,
a fresh cup of hot coffee at my side, the sound of a soft rain on the tent. My
god, how lucky am I… how incredibly lucky! For years and years I’ve wanted
to be at peace with the world, with mankind in general, and for a span of my
middle years I was… in tune with crowds, cities, foreign outposts. Then, at
some point unbeknownst to me, it began slowly slipping away until now, when
the feeling of content, peace and personal safety visit me only in very small
doses. Except when I’m out here on the Aimless.

B and I just returned from a lovely trip to Albuquerque and San Antonio…
Albuquerque for a hot air balloon ride for B’s 80th birthday, and San Antonio
to visit my lifelong friend Rick and his wife, Joanie, for several exceptional days.
Sitting here this morning, still in the glow of that wonderful week, the hassles
of travel – the busy airports, the crowds in the cities, the general rush of
humanity that runs madly to make a deadline that is unreachable… all that
is falling away out here on the North Sound and what remains is the sweet
memories of special times with loved ones. It’s almost like magic, how the
water, the wind and the solitude wash away the built-up crap of toxic residue
our current culture has dumped on so many of us. I’m feeling refreshed, alive
again and not tethered by the dark forboding of our current political crisis.
Here, right now, none of it seems to matter.

It does matter, of course. There are so many signs we are killing our planet
with our rampant greed and stupidity. I wonder what would happen if I were
able to bring all of our politicians out here, one at a time, and re-introduce
them to nature’s reality. Would they finally see what they’re blindingly affecting
on a daily basis? Would they finally get it?? Oh god, it would never work.
I can see it now…

Politician/lawyer/liar – “Okay, so we’re out here. What now? What do we do?
What do YOU do? And where’s my cell phone?”

Me – “Sit down here by the fire with me. Here, have a cup of coffee. And calm
down, your cell’s back in the truck.”

P – “Damn it, I need to check in!”

Me – “Careful, that coffee’s hot. Here, sit here. Take a deep breath, man, you’re
back in what I consider to be the real world. So what do you think?”

P – “I still don’t know why I’m here. What are we doing? Where are we going?
And why is it so goddamn quiet?”

Me – “First off, we’re not going anywhere… we’re already here, one of the
best places in the world to be right now. Don’t you get that? Smell the air…
it’s sweet, right? Listen to the water against the raft, and look, up there…
there’s an eagle! See it?”

P – “I hate to tell you this, Mr. Hulse, but so far this is the most boring,
meaningless thing I’ve ever done in my life!”

Me – “Well, we could fish. This is great salmon water! Want to do a little fishing?”

P – “I hate fishing! What a waste of time.”

Me – “But I’ll bet you golf…”

P – “Sure, doesn’t everybody?”

Me – “Um, how’s your coffee?”

P – “It’s weak. Wish I had a latte right now. And my cell phone. Don’t you have
a bathroom on this thing?”

Me – “Maybe if we…”

P – “Look, this is ridiculous! Paddle me back to your truck, I don’t know what
kind of bullshit you’re trying to pull on me out here, but it’s not working! I’ve
wasted half a goddamn day already, and for what?? I need to get back to the
office and make a few calls, at least try to get something done…”

Me – “I think you ought to at least give it a little time. There’s so much to…”

P – “No! Take me back now! This is NOT the real world at all, I don’t know
kind of rabbit hole you’re trying to take me down, but it’s not going to work!
Smell the air – see that eagle… christ! Get me the hell out of here!!”

Yup. That’s probably very close to what would happen in most cases. Money
is a non-factor on the Sound, greed is meaningless and the need for power
is almost funny. Life on the Aimless gets very simple and definable in a hurry.
And that would simply not do for an urban politician. My god, I’m so very, very
glad I’m not a politician, or a lawyer, or a liar.

So, the politician doesn’t want to fish with me. Fine. Maybe I’ll send him a
subpoena, that’s something I bet he understands. Only thing I understand
right now is that fresh salmon would taste great for dinner! Think I’ll finish
this coffee and go try my luck. Now where did I put that fishing pole?

Steve Hulse

One Reply to “A Day At Winter’s Edge”

  1. Thanks, Steve, for writing of your last trip out to the Sound this year. It’s amazing how you can transport us to that beautiful place and time!

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