For 16 months I have lived aboard Hannah Brown. I have enjoyed
the gentle rocking of the boat at night, the sun rising and
setting on the different waters of our ever-changing front yard.
Today I am on a bus headed to Massachusetts. It has been a long
time since I have been so far across land and now it all seems
new. Though it is a drizzly day, everything looks brilliantly
green. As we left the ocean's edge we climbed rolling hills dense
with forests. As we peak the mini mountains I feel close to the
enormous sky speckled with patches of bright blue behind the low
gray clouds. Further inland the hills roll into pastures of lazy
looking cows. Patches of grass by the road turning gold highlight
the emerald color of lush looking fields on the plains.
I am sitting in the second seat behind the driver, as the first
is reserved for his jacket and personal belonging. Our two lane
highway has little traffic but when we pass other vehicles,
especially big trucks I am periodically tricked into thinking we
are on a three or four lane super highway. I see us passing a
truck on our right side, but the big window to my left reflects
the truck so clearly that it feels as if we are sneaking between
two fast moving vehicles, and I am glad to see us pull ahead.
As the the big wind wipers clink out of sink, I am reminded of my
perch in Hannah Brown's cabin. The road in front of us narrows to
a point on the distant horizon like the bow of a giant boat. I
often watch the bow of our boat rise and fall over a horizon. The
boat and my body often rock from side to side with the waves
tipping the line between sky and water into an endless teeter
Sailing at 3-6 knots per hour, landmarks creep by with time to
admire different angles of their view, but the water engulfing us
changes patterns at an incomprehensible pace. Surface textures
designed by the great invisible force incessantly teases our
sails propelling us onward, or stalling us at its whim. Chaotic,
yet rhythmic waves rolling, peaking, swelling, crashing, in all
directions for as far as I can see. Close to me, water rushes
over the decks, in and out the scuppers, or breaks into a rushing
lace foam as the hull cuts through the currents.
On the bus we move at a speed that feels like lightening across a
still landscape. I imagine we are sailing on a green ocean that
often swells up along our side as the road cuts through hills.
These great masses of fuzzy green earth swell to block the
horizon. Looking foreword I am drawn to the double image
reflected in my big window. I see both sides of the road pass by
on top of each other. Sometimes it is hard to tell which is
which, but the slight curve of the pavement usually makes the
reflection slant up. The effect of the two is an optical illusion
of the horizon rocking back and forth like the boat's, but my
body in the big bus stays level. Other tricks are that when we
curve to the right the road widens and traffic doubles. When the
road curves to the left, landscapes rush inside like the ocean
over our decks. Smoke stacks in the distance remind me of the old
picturesque steamers. Across from me, the city of St. John's is
perfectly reflected in a rocky cliff. It is like the rare view of
a whale in the distance, and instant memory.
As the ocean engulfing a boat changes water patterns at an
incomprehensible pace, so does my view from the buss window. As
the bus-ship glides along fields, I see glimpses of wind patterns
in swaying grass, but the landscape changes so swiftly, forests,
wild flowers, manicured lawns, granite cliffs, clusters of homes,
stands of dry snags, telephone poles, spots of water glistening
like rare jewels all reflected on each other in my big window
like an old fashioned kaleidoscope.
When we pause in city harbors, I see butterflies instead of
seagulls, and flags blowing freely remind me of a luffing sail,
but I'm not at the helm, and there is no sheet to harness the
city sail. Venturing on land was once so familiar, but now
everything seems new.