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I spent the longest evening of the year – ROWING!

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Rowing, like a tar, like a mate, like a swabbie, like a galley hand, not quite like a Gloucesterman. I would like to row like a Gloucesterman in a dory but this being Alaska I am rowing with many others in a shell so I only get one oar. That way it’s difficult for me to take out more than one other rower at a time .Rowing is probably an exaggeration of what I am doing. I’m really just trying not to tip us over.  Perhaps you think I exaggerate?

As I was leaving for the boat pen my sister called and  was quite concerned about my destination. The conversation went something like this.

Sister :   Oh my God, You’re still doing that rowing thing? No! This is probably the last time I’ll ever talk to you because you’re going to be dead.

Me:   I just don’t want to tip us all over. I haven’t so far.

Sister:  Nobody wants you in their boat. You’re like Karen Carpenter, you have no arms.

Me:   Well, you really use your legs …

Sister:  But you have no eye- hand coordination. You can’t just learn that at your age. It’s a lost cause.

Me:  I thought maybe I would get better at it.

Sister:  But you’re so nervous. I know you, the minute they yell at you, you’ll freeze up and won’t be able to remember what you’re doing and everyone will drown.

Me:  You’re right, I do freeze up but there are at least seven other people  who can correct for me.

Sister: Like I said, no one is going to want you in their boat because they’re going to die. You’re good at running. People who run do it because it doesn’t require any coordination. Nerds do it.  Stick to what you’re good at.

As you might gather, my sister is like me in that she is also very worried. She also likes to poke fun and exaggerate a bit.   She might have an edge on me in coordination as she played basketball in high school. She’ll never let me forget that in some play we did, perhaps Anything Goes, I had to dress in a tux and dance with her as we were the two tallest people in the chorus. I couldn’t quite lead and we were threatened with being taken out of the number. I’m actually not a horrible dancer but I would say I’m probably more suited to clown dancing than ballroom dancing. I’m not sure if there is a clown rowing division but I think there is and it’s called “novice.” That’s what I’ll be rowing in.  They would probably look askance at me wearing my clown nose so I will hold off until after the race.

I did make it back alive or I wouldn’t be writing this. Also we did get to dance in the play.  After  rowing tonight  there was a discussion of whether today is the beginning of summer or the end of it. Pessimists and depressives know in their hearts that the days get shorter from now on. Yet it’s difficult for an optimist to ignore that the earth continues to warm until August here when you can almost smell the snow. As a depressive I can still see the snow and not just in the mountains.  There are still four or five mountains of plowed snow in the Anchorage snow dumps which remind me of winter when I drive by and I’m not entirely sure they will be melted by the end of summer. But I have no time to worry about that. I can only think about rowing. If thinking about rowing would make me a better rower I would be all set, but hardly anything works that way. In fact the more importance I put on an event, the more nervous I usually get and the idea of freezing up starts to infiltrate my thoughts. That’s like when I think about winter approaching on the longest day of the year. I will think about ice cream, that’s always a safe topic, and Evelyn Waugh.  Let me end with a few colorful photos from the week for those of you not familiar with our summer evenings.

8:30 pm Tuesday evening on the coastal trail overlooking The Knik Arm.




11:19 pm across the street from my house (not even touched up)!


About polarflares

My head is so big because it has so many holes and air gets in.

2 responses »

  1. “Gloucesterman in a dory.” Nice! I was supposed to find you a copy of Nick Flynn’s great Boston memoir, “Another Bullshit Night in Suck City,” but I failed to do that. Then the movie they made out of it (“Being Flynn” — they chickened out on the title) came to the Bear Tooth for one night (two weeks ago) and left. Robert De Niro was surprisingly good as a self-described writing genius and sometime resident of the Pine Street Inn homeless shelter. His character lived for a while in Scituate, which apparently contained some well-to-do Irish families. Nick Flynn calls it the “Irish Riviera.”

    • Long ago my mother’s parents used to take the kids to somewhere near there, that’s where all the Irish families went for the day or to a rental on the beach. I think that’s why she wanted to live in The North Shore.


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