July 24, 2009
On the morning sail I took with my father, the river was quiet. The vacationers with their big power boats and jet skis were still sleeping. At the state park that juts out between the bay and the river, we saw just one woman with a coffee mug, emerging from an RV to sit on a sun-warmed rock.
All summer my father has been watching workmen building a summer cottage – or I guess I should say a summer mansion – on an island that sits between the bay and the river. Every single piece of equipment or material needs to be carried out to the island by barge, but that restriction doesn’t seem to be limiting the project much. New additions keep going up: big new docks, for example, a boathouse with a sundeck, or a bridge that connected the island to a smaller island. The main building, with stone steps and a turret, was taking shape as we watched.
“I’d love to see the inside of the building,” I said. But of course, when new neighbors live on an island, it’s hard to just walk over with a tray of brownies.
“I never see the owner,” my father said.
I told him my plan. “I’ll wait until a thunderstorm is coming and go over in a canoe. Then they’ll invite me to stay until the lightning stops.”
I have no doubt that any folks enjoying the view from the verandas of the new place would probably be talking about the sailboat they saw tacking about the bay. My Dad’s wooden sailboat, which he designed and built himself, is very recognizable.
In his faded flannel shirt and ripped jeans, with his white hair sticking out of a hat with an eagle on the brim, my father looks like someone who has lived on the river for years. He has, in fact, spent summers on this river since he was a boy. “You’re the local color,” I said. “Part of the scenery. If I owned that place, I’d be out on the deck taking photos of your boat.”
“People like the look of a sailboat,” he agreed. “For TV golf tournaments, they’ll pay a sailboat to be in the scene. Sometimes you can see a boat with the sails up, but you can tell it’s under power and just going back and forth.”
He looked over at the big house on the island, and the barge going across, filled with construction materials. “Maybe when they have parties, they’ll pay me to sail back and forth.”
Posted by jo(e)