Wednesday, June 17, 2009

feelings of home......

i love reading the ramblings of a father who writes about his days. Recently he wrote about the feelings of home, which reminded me of a post I wrote recently on facebook. His writings inspire me to share it in blog world as well. Here it is;

sometimes in the winter, I work third shift.

leaving my facility while it is still dark brings me a feeling that i have known before. street lights are dimming as the soft glow in the sky tells of a sun starting to rise.

reflectors of bright yellow and white flicker against the dark grey pavement as i drive onward towards home.

a slow changing of colors in the sky is like the yawning of the day.

there is often a birdsong heard right as dawn breaks. an offer of praise perhaps to the creator for a new day.

driving home after third shift brings me comfort.

brings me back to a place of childhood peace. a time when driving as the sun rose meant going home.

home that was never a place to live, but a place where i belonged, where family was in every face that you looked at; a place that you dare not date anyone until you conducted a thorough family tree.

many call it The Vineyard...and they say it with a cool yuppy like sound....that conjurs up thoughts of Black Dog, Democratic Kings and queens and Carly Simon.

for me, we called it The island. There was no other island and it was our island.

for me, it was about driving around the bend to see the Nautilus sign that causes you to immediatly turn your face left to see the Coast Guard ships and scan the ocean for signs of the ferry....

your ferry.

coming like a floating whale to open it's mouth...for you to return to the bosom of your homeland.

in the old days we would round the corner and drive right into the standby line. we would climb out of the crowded car and run for the bathrooms while someone bought ticketts. sometimes that car belonged to my father....and 5-6 kids jumped out of a smoke filled pinto with two huge old english sheep dogs...chet and Levi would sleep in the back of that station wagon curled up with two huge fur ball excuses for dogs. mac and minnie. or in the yellow opal. same kids except for the little one...would climb out with their crumbs from snacks falling down...probably bologna and bread sandwhiches..........and we would run pellmell from the bathroom to the fence of the dock. Watching in the morning night for the lights of the ferry....and we had favorite ferries....the uncatina (sp?)....for one. We knew the ferries by name and waited for bring us home.

the seagulls would call hello to us, knowing that the blood in our veins belonged to their island. wind would often be whipping the flags on the poles, clanging the ropes against the metal tune to the buoys calling out with fog hornes.......and voices of workers would be heard shouting with the vowels intoned differently than ours but more belonging to us...they would say, "pahhhk that cahh over thahhh...." we knew it was a directive to park the car over there. music to our ears.

The boat would come and we would jump with glee! Running to get into the car as if it would leave without us before the boat even docked.

The docking was an adventure as the mouth of the whale would come toward this giant square, and it would bump to the left and right as it aimed for the perfect dock. Chains would be clanking loudly as the ramp was lowered and positioned.......and then.....

the wave.

the men in uniform would start waving for cars to come aboard...and our car engine would start...and we knew by the clunk clank that we passed over the ramp and into the belly of a whale....

and the echos in the well of the boat, we would tap our feet twice as loud to hear them, stopping to look out large open windows (checking to see if there was a shark fin in the waves) before running up the metal stairs to the top of the boat. At every door, you had to step up because there was a metal raised plank in the doorway. The top deck is where we always ran unless it was storming or freezing cold. even then, you went to the top anyway for a brief acknowlegment that you had come home and all was well.

The churning of the motors would grow loud as the engines pulled water out of the ocean and into its machinary to begin the reverse. Chains and clanking would be heard again as the ship would be released from its docking. Shouts in the massachussets twang would echo through the walls...and the HORN would blow.

If you were standing near it, you would be lucky to feel the vibration of the noise in your every bone. Even in your bones, you knew, you were returning home.

The horn was the call to the island, that it's children were returning.......home......home.

we would look into the waves, sometimes clear minty green with sunrays coming from the ocean's bottom, sometimes dark gray and onery with white caps that would rock the ship left and right, up and down, sometimes deep teals...always it's mood for the day expressed in a different color...the ocean cradled the ship onward towards the vineyard.

and we would watch.

as small mounds of land with sand and brush passed us...and buoys red with numbers and lights swayed and sang out....

as lights coming from the vineyard indicated another ferry was to pass us....

as the sun rose with the most miraclous of sunrises....placing it's rays across the homes that were coming into focus as we approached the island.

and always, looking to the right, tring to guess where between the west chop lighthouse and the gazebo (olin park maybe?) was the path from Ma's summer house....the beach with the boats turned upside down, with the lilac bushes taking over the fencing....where I spent numerous hours finding seashells with Ma (jane cleveland), watching sailboats and picking lilacs.... I never really can find it, but I tell myself that I do, each time.

The boat comes around the corner and into the harbor.

on summer days there is an onslaught of sailboats coming at your ship and around you. People smiling up and waving at you as they start their day out on the sea....

on cold winter days, the harbor is quiet. floating markers show either lobster traps or boat holds, I 'm not really sure.

As the ship enters Vineyard Haven, the Horn Blows loud again. Letting all know, even the dead in West Tisbury, that we have come home.

We would run down to the car, hoping that if the boat wasn't crowded, we could stand at the open door behind the mesh netting and watch as the boat came to dock. We would look into all the faces to see if there were familiar eyes.

If we came in the opal; there would be the eyes of MA waving. An older woman with grey hair, standing next to her car. Waving and smiling........ Later it would be Gram. A younger version of the same english strength, with a red lipstick; standing next to the same car......waving....... There were times when a jeep would pick us up; George or Untie Dot. There were times when Mikey would be fishing off the time chasing a humongous crab...he was my uncle jack cousteau..... he had stories of seeing shark....and buckets of squid that he would catch.

If we came with my dad, there wasn't anyone at the dock because they lived farther the woods. We would clink clunk off the boat...and drive past the A & P and bike rental shop, hang a right, then a left.....and drive on roads that took us up island. Roads paved with tar that had trapped sand and beachstones ...and a few shells....lined with oak trees that appeared to grow while ingesting salt and sand. Shorter than our oaks, twisted and gnarled...and well, salty and sandy looking.

up island.

Taking a left onto new lane as the road curved, we looked at grass. Grass that had sand at its' roots. We would turn left and look to the right for Uncle Cy's grey cedar shingled cottage...and then look for the dirt road between the trees that opened up to reveal the cottage.

A cottage with white triming and cedar shingles. A garage to the right...with the path to the outhouse.
A bunkhouse. Dogs, Aunts and Uncles running to say hello.......and gramma and grandpa. A house that had roses...and I swear I could smell the blueberries as we drove in...even though those bushes were out in back past the wooden swing that hung in the breezes.

Arriving at the the the feeling that I remember when I leave work at 7 am...driving on the empty roads, while the sun is rising......and a new day is coming.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Blue Glass

She was excited to see her grandmother again. She had driven 3 hours and taken a 45 minute ferry anticipating being with the family she loved. It was financially hard this year. She just graduated from college and hadn't started working yet. She had scrapped up her last change to pay for the gas and ferry. It was important to her to bring her son across the ocean and to be around family.

After her grandmother hugged her hello, she brought her to the living room to show her the new blue glass pieces, again.

The blue glass was everywhere around the room. Some hung in the windows, shapes of flowers and animals stuck with rubber suction holders so that the sun could reflect through the shapes. They were stacked on the shevles..... it was much like being in a gift shop. There were so many pieces of blue glass.

Gram knew exactly each piece, who had given it to her or where she had bought it. She was listening patiently, again, as her grandmother went through each story about each piece.

she wished she was a piece of blue glass.

Years passed. She returned to the island again, with her husband now and more children. She was happy to see her grandmother again, but had foresight enough to tell her husband that he would go through a tour of her grandmother's blue glass. Patiently they listened as she described each piece of blue glass.....each person that had given it to her...or where she had bought it.

She worried that her children would touch the blue glass. Her children looking up in awe at the beautiful blues reflecting through the windows....magically making little ducks look like shimmery crystal creatures.. She winced as one of her little ones hands' reached out to touch the blue magic.

touching the blue glass might mean everyone would hear about how her kids weren't well might mean she wouldn't be invited back. She loved her grandmother, but in that moment she hated the blue glass.

she wished her and her babies were blue glass.

More years passed. She returned to the island again. One of her babies a man now, seeking secrets from the island as he passed through adulthood. She sought to find her grandmother out....longing to see the blue eyes and the love on her face. The years had taken grandma's ability to speak well and care for herself. She was no longer in her home with the blue glass shimmering around the living room. She was in the hospital, needing 24 hour care from the stroke that took so much of her strength away.

When she entered gram's hospital room, she was struck by the blue glass. Hanging in the windows and a few standing on her nightstand by her bed. " OK", she thought, this would give Gram comfort. She resigned herself to the fact that the hated blue glass was still around.

She was struck with emotional surprise that even though Grandma wasn't able to speak; she gave the tour of the blue glass. Using a board to write on and gesturing with her hands; grandma showed her and her 5 year old daughter, the precious blue glass.

sadness overcame her. she no longer hated the blue glass, she felt pity.

Later that day she took her daughter to the Oak Bluff beaches to play in the sand. They jumped over stones, picking up the most beautiful ones to bring home to treasure. They sang, they danced...they splashed water at each other from the cold ocean. She felt home in the loving presence of her daughter on the they gathered shells together reliving moments that generations before had beheld; mother and daughter gathering the gifts from the sea...

when her daughter looked down exclaiming in having found a beautiful piece of sea glass. The edges were softened from the salt and sand... her daughter held the sea glass up to the sun for it to reflect through....

and it was then that she knew.

the sea glass was blue.

she remembered being with gram and her great grandmother. she remembered childhood days of walking the beach looking for sea glass. Blue sea glass was the ultimate treasure. The ultimate reward. The ultimate gift from the sea....

she knew.

She was the blue was her mother.....her cousins...her aunts....and uncles...her grandmother....and now her daughter.

blue sea glass.

blue memories of stolen days on the beaches......

small tokens to remember each person that gave her the gifts of blue glass...

and she wept a few tears for all the years of misunderstanding. of wishing she was blue glass...and not knowing.

She clutched the sea glass in her hand, knowing that it would hang on a string in her window so that the sun could reflect the blue that she and her babies would know;

the love of Gram.