Monday, 7 May 2007

Dreaming of the day

Slanting dawn sunlight throws flecks of orange over a smooth sea. A gently rocking wooden boat, low to the water, shudders slightly as its occupant heaves his recumbent form onto one elbow and scans the bright horizon. The last waft of a dying breeze from the land sends a slow wave of iridescence through the olives and pines before gusting over the water, carrying the resonant throb of cicadas and a farewell hint of rosemary and thyme. Passing the boat the warm wind picks up the scent and sound of coffee chuckling in the pot and bears them out to sea.

The coffee’s drunk with yesterday’s bread, the last of the butter and a thick spread of sweet, peach jam. A knife and a cup are rinsed over the side, despatching the small boat’s reflection, a piece at a time, on broadening ripples. The bedding is folded and stowed, crumbs are collected in a damp sponge which, when squeezed over the side, breaks the clear view through the transparent water to the white, sandy bottom where a cuttlefish scuttles to the boat’s shadow.

The anchor soars up from the sea bed in a silent cloud of sand. Oars are shipped as the sun rises quickly into the new day and the fine lined, narrow boat glides out of the small bay, the drip and splash of the blades echoing back from the rocks.

Now the broad sea clinks and slaps down the boat’s side, the bows rise and fall to the gentle roll of the water’s welcome and the masts draw mute circles on the domed, blue roof of sky. Cool eddies gather into a light wind that is drawn to the shimmer of heat lifting from the waking land. The boat puts its nose to the breeze and a balanced lug sail rushes up the main. The halyards tied off, the centreboard down, the mizzen set, a hand on the tiller, another on the sheet, and the craft bears away, keeping the breeze just forward of the beam. A rush and a gurgle, a splash of white water sprinkles the decks. The skipper leans back, adjusts the set of the sails, tastes the salt on his lips and grins widely at the sky.

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