Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Sloth on Land

I have emerged from the Chesapeake Bay very pink, but intact. Here are the events as I recollect them: On the first day the wind was bad and thunderstorms were imminent. The radio kept telling us that we were in the midst of a "major marine weather event" even though all we could see was haze on either side of us and after motoring to Bloody point we sailed right quick over to our anchorage on the Eastern Shore under a good wind. We finally figured out from the radio babble that we had been in a narrow corridor between two violent thunderstorms, which explained why there was not a single other boat in sight. We didn't get a drop on us, but I learned a lot about how a boat absorbs lightning in the ensuing discussion. (If built correctly, a boat is quite a good place to find oneself in a thunderstorm, as it turns out.) Surprisingly, the water was nettle-free (usually the jellyfish are everywhere this time of year, looking up at you insolently from the water, tentacles waving, nematocysts at the ready, going, "What? You don't feel like swimming?") so we put our bathing suits on and paddled around in the warm water, startling ourselves silly every time something brushed against us. The fireflies that night were their own fireworks show. They blinked sedately in the treetops and I watched them until I fell asleep swaddled in a blanket on the deck. The next day we did nothing. I finished "The Secret History" by Donna Tartt which was absolutely mesmerizing the whole way through and the first book I've read in a while that presented that old conflict: I can't put it down, but I don't want it to end... The following day we had a perfect wind and we screamed into Whitehall Bay like we were being chased by pirates. On the way there we sailed through a roving cloud of Japanese beetles which, instead of flying by us, decided to come in for a landing. They bombarded us, exoskeletons clattering down onto the deck like Skittles. "Oh GOD!" they moaned collectively, "We were so TIRED! Thank GOD you stopped by, we didn't think we could go any further!" Then they wriggled around on their backs for a while until they could find some shade to sit in. My uncle looked at me, three or four beetles on his hat, several on his arms and legs and many on his shirt, and said in the flattest possible voice, "It's Beatlemania." We swam at Whitehall Bay too, and my uncle finally caught a nettle (probably the only one in the whole bay) on the leg. Ouch. Being a Pennsylvania Dutchman (and therefore disinclined to complain about any physical ailment beyond being seriously maimed), he insisted it didn't hurt much but just "tingled." Right. I've been stung by those ne'er-do-wells and they fucking HURT. All of this meant that I couldn't complain about my cramps even though they were killing me because they were probably killing me less than his nettle sting and I wasn't about to be the sissy on the boat. That night the car lights on the Bay Bridge behind us looked like a string of diamonds as people poured into Washington D.C. for the fireworks. I watched them until I fell asleep swaddled in a blanket on the deck. (I slept outside every night. THAT'S a vacation.) The day after that, we motored home, picked up some guests and went to watch the fireworks. I've never been that close to fireworks before - we were anchored right underneath them - and of course I forgot to bring my camera. Sorry. It was fun, even when some people got seasick. I stood with my arm around the tucked-in mainsail and drank a Corona while I watched people puke under an exploding sky. Good times. I have to admit that I sort of forgot how smokin' the new man is until he came to the airport to get me. He pulled up to the curb in his car and I thought, "Wow, that guy's totally hot." And then the totally hot guy was grabbing my suitcase and making out with me at the same time and I was glad to be home.