I needed a walk in the woods to cure me of the long winter’s cabin fever, the lingering effects of the flu, and a bad case of writer’s block. I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to write about in my blog — some maintenance topic or buying and selling of boats. So on a bright bone-chilling afternoon I walked down the dirt fire-road usually coated with pine needles and now coated with a foot of snow to a large pond a quarter of a mile from my house. My dog Aubrey ran on ahead, across the frozen crust sturdy enough to support both our weights. I was unprepared for what I would see—boats and devastation.
Oh, I expected to see the gnarled and twisted saplings bent under a winter of storms, but when I came across the sad looking boats the sorrow of winter abandonment left me wondering if spring would ever come again.
The first of these boats was an aluminum skiff recently seen being towed by my neighbor’s teenager on a four-wheel ATV with a couple more kids howling and screaming onboard as they bounced over the new snow cover. I remember a flash of anger, at the time, as I thought, “They’ll rip the rivets right out of that and it’ll never hold water again.” Now it lay abandoned, dented, and forlorn in the scrub as I reflected on what good, albeit destructive, fun those kids did have on a boat floating only in snow.
When I reached the shores of the frozen pond I saw the second boat, a canoe left right-side up and now full to the rim with a curious frozen mixture of ice, leaves, and paddles. Again. I thought, “That can’t be good.”
After a short respite on the sun-drenched rocks overlooking the pond while my pup explored the snow-covered ice, I moved on through the silent woods. I took another path on my way home, passing by another neighbors’ property where his old wooden PennYan runabout sat rotting. A pretty little boat in its day — I had tried to buy it from him for a restoration project some years ago, but he refused saying his dad gave it to him and he was going to fix it himself. Now passed beyond my simple skills to revive, I could almost see it in its former glory.
As I walked up my drive past my own collection of misfit boats waiting for spring and their own renewal projects, I thought, “It won’t be long now.” Winter’s grip will soon release and boats will be back where they belong, in the water, and not floating on snow and ice under the silent trees.