I used to could

This morning I loaded Bica into her bike cart (how things have changed since I last posted here) and took her over to the beach so she could go for a walk on the packed sand, maybe chase her ball a bit. Bica is increasingly losing track of her hind legs, can’t walk far without tripping herself up, falls down if she turns too sharply. But she still likes to chase her ball. A bit. After a few tosses, she stops chasing it, just looks at it. Looks at me. I don’t do it no more, her eyes seem to say. But I used to could.

Then she barks for me to bring it to her. Which of course I do.

Our winter home on Toronto Island.

I see I haven’t written here since November. In truth, it didn’t feel right to be posting on a site called Liveaboard when in fact I’ve been living in extreme comfort in a beautiful cottage on Algonquin Island. But we’ve started working on the boat, now that it’s warmed up some, so it seems okay to get back to this blog.

On weekends and some days after work, we drive to Port Credit, lean a stepladder against the boat, climb up and unzip the little door in the plastic cover, and squeeze aboard. I found our first visit somewhat distressing. Though the temperature had risen above freezing and it was a sunny day, the boat was still cold and damp below deck, smelled strongly of antifreeze and yes, of diesel fuel, a little. We’d left the bilges open to air out so had to step carefully at first. I closed them, then began to reassemble things—I put the cushions back on the settees, put the table back together.

Unfortunately, Chris was taking things apart as quickly as I could put them together. He propped up the bed in the rear stateroom so he could get a look at the steering mechanism, removed half the wall in the galley so he could get at the batteries, pulled off a panel in the salon so he could access the wires running up to the mast. Tool sprouted everywhere—pliers, wrenches, screwdrivers. Little piles of bolts and washers began to appear. Then the power tools came out.

But I didn’t really mind. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen him that happy.

Actually, we’re both pretty happy these days. Chris is taking some time off this summer, and we’re planning to sail out the St. Lawrence. I wonder, sometimes, if I even remember how to sail. We spent almost all of last summer tied to a dock. And I’ll admit that the prospect of sailing out the St. Lawrence is a little daunting to me. The currents are fierce and weird and once we’re past Quebec City we’ll be dealing with tides as well. Oh, and did I mention that in many parts of the waterway we will be sharing a narrow channel with huge ships? Not to mention the locks…

I used to could, I have to keep reminding myself.

The mighty St. Lawrence. Note the shoals near the far shore.

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