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Column: A springtime journey
NEW AMERICAN GOTHIC

Column: A springtime journey

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Seven inches of snow last week set me to thinking of sailing on a long cruise in a small sailboat somewhere south of Pennsylvania.

How many cans of beans would I need for a three-month trip around the Chesapeake Bay and down the intercostal waterway?

How about freshwater? What about fishing gear?

Oh, then there’s the hay, goat food, dog food, and my insulin. I would need a small barn and a large fresh water tank, and of course a pitchfork, shovel, hay fork, and who knows what else. Oh yes, some milk replacer for the babies.

Perhaps a sailing scow or barge is what I actually need, with a generator on board for the refrigerator. I could probably do it on a 40-foot vessel with a pilot cabin on deck, cabins below, and storage.

Oh yes, I might as well have a diesel engine and fuel storage in case of a jam.

Things in my mind are getting out of hand.

I always have that catch in my plans when I remember why I’m not much of an adventurer anymore.

I can’t just wander off into the wilderness for a week or two. I’d have to carry all of my medical supplies with me, plus a refrigerator. That makes things a little harder. I’d also have to stop by the drugstore twice a month. And of course I’d have to bring all the animals along.

Let’s face it, I have some things that I must make concessions to, like it or not.

It’s not too bad. I have four baby goats that I’m bottle feeding. The hens and duck hens are laying eggs. And, Maggie’s at home for a while, which is the only benefit of this pandemic, as far as I can tell.

Still, I’d like to spend two weeks paddling in the Everglades and surrounding islands and inlets with my brother. There’s not much ice out there in the mangroves, sawgrass or on the hammocks. And I’ve never seen a pharmacy on the Shark River. I have seen a lot of birds, fish and alligators out there.

A future short trip will have to suffice.

Or, I’d enjoy going to my mother’s old home in Guatemala and hiking through the mountains, even though there is no one left from those days and everything has changed. (I might be the only one who remembers anything about that time, even though it’s all from stories told to me when I was a boy.)

I never have been physically to Central America even though I have some slight connection to the region. I do have some books which in some sense have taken me there.

Nothing, though, can replace the atmosphere of a place. No picture or book can get you all the way to a place.

When you breathe in a wild place, a distant place, it becomes part of you.

Right now, here in the Adirondacks, as the days get warmer and things seem to be coming back to life, or preparing for the next cycle, there are mysterious perfumes in the air.

You need to get away from roads, and machines and houses. You need to be still yourself.

Then, as the snow melts, the streams run, and the sap rises you can be transported to where you are. It can become part of you. And, you won’t even need to sail away to journey.

And, I suppose neither will I.

Forrest Hartley lives in Hadley, N.Y. Leave a message at new_americangothic@yahoo.com.

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