Posted by: Michelle Knoll | April 7, 2011

The Salt Air Calls My Name

The salt air is calling my name.

I close my eyes…. and I see…

…clear blue sky with wispy white clouds

…water sparkling as waves lap the bank

…Spanish moss swaying gently in the warm afternoon breeze, hanging from low branches of ancient oaks… age-old sentries…

And I hear…

…oyster shells crackling under my worn out canvas tennis shoes as I walk to the old fishing boat, shoes that have faded over the years, waterlogged and dried out so many times.

…the thunk of the cooler against the bottom of the old metal boat

…the rattle of the fishing rods as I place them beside the cooler

…the plop of the squishy bag of bait on the seat.

The wind blows my hair.  Looking up, I see a white heron extend its wings gracefully, and slowly rise into the air… not a care in the world…. I stand and watch as his strong wings carry him far away… far away… far, far away…

Focused again, I grip the hot metal of the bow, and push the boat off the sandy, crunchy shore, the water’s current beating against the stern, pushing it down stream…  One step, then another step into the muddy, murky bottom of the channel… then into the boat, steadying myself, keeping balance.

Over the calm of the channel, the motor grumbles into life… then…

… I maneuver the boat slowly, past docks and relics of docks, marsh grass, oyster banks, and other boats bouncing lightly on the tiny ripples of water, tugging on their moorings as if to say, “let me come and play!”

Destination found… a wide spot in Woodland Creek… just around the bend from the row of houses that have been resident here for what seems an eternity, holding vigil over the marshlands. Old houses, some with peeling paint, others made of brick, almost all with screened porches and hammocks in the front yards, all that have stories to tell, stories that would fill thousands of books.

The engine sputters to rest, and the boat drifts slowly with the current.  A marsh hen squawks in the distance, then… all is enveloped in a sleepy sun-baked stillness.  Only the occasional surprise of a mullet jumping out of the green-gray water breaks the silence. That… and the lapping of the current against the nearby oyster bank, and the sides of the old boat. 

I pick up the anchor, and heave it into the water, receiving water sprinkles from its splash, and I listen as it gurgles to the bottom.

Anchor set, I turn to the bag of bait, and pull out a shrimp. Peel back the shell to reveal the tasty meat, delight of fish and crab alike. Rod in my lap, I weave the bait onto the hook.

Then, rod in hand, the weight and hook swing just a bit in the gentle breeze. Eying the water, I cast the line…  and hear the whiz of the reel as the weight flies through the air, strikes the water, and sinks below my view…

Perfect.

I set the reel, and settle back, wiggling my wet toes in my soggy old tennis shoes…

This is home. This is life. This is good.

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