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....
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 them....to 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 poles...in 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 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 docks....one 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 away...in 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.
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 island.....in the night......is 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.
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