So Jimmy Buffett has this song called One Particular Harbor. After close examination of the lyrics, I've decided it's about one particular harbor. It's a pretty straight-forward thing, as Buffett songs tend to be, but I've always liked it.
Jimmy said he wrote the song while staying on Cooks Bay, Moorea, Tahiti. I googled it up and, yup, based on the pictures I would have written a helluva song there too. But since I've never been to Tahiti (and also have no song writing ability), that didn't happen. As it turns out, his particular harbor isn't mine.
Who needs French Polynesia?
My particular harbors are mostly in the Caribbean: surrounded by sand and sea, rum and sun. In a couple days I'll be heading to St. Croix for some one-particular-harboring. I've never been to the Virgin Islands before which is a big part of my excitement. Also: I'll be camping solo. It's an opportunity to wander entirely unknown shores for entirely undefined reasons. I love the islands of the Caribbean.
Who needs the Caribbean?
In preparation for the trip, I did two things yesterday. The first was that I cleared space on my phone by dumping a few thousand photos onto a backup drive. To confirm that they transferred properly, I clicked on a random image which happened to be the photo above.
"Nice! I'm gonna be there in just a few days!" was my first thought. Followed by "Where the hell did I take this picture?" The harbor at Union Island in the Grenadines maybe? I had no idea.
After clicking a few adjacent images for clues, I realized I took this picture about a mile from my house. I keep my boat on Lake Mendota, one of five lakes surrounding Madison. This anchorage (seaman-speak for "party spot") is a good-sized bay tucked behind Governor's Island.
On a sunny Saturday afternoon, the bay will easily hold a hundred boats. This invariably includes at least three wakeboats full of dudes who really want to share their recent discovery of 2011 era dubstep. On a quiet Tuesday night, though, you'll have the place to yourself: floating quietly, sleeping under the stars until the sun comes back around. This bay has definitely attained One Particular Harbor status for me. The best part is that it's only a boat and a beer away. Just add water. No salt required.
Hell, who needs water?
The other thing I did to prep for my departure was fix our roof. The sumbitch has been leaking again. Ours is an old and oddly angled house. Depending on the weather, scrambling around up there always runs the risk of a quick and cratered end. I'm very aware of this fact. Gathering the courage to work the back side, in particular, requires a network of mental ladders leading from one level of fortitude to the next. When it's raining (or snowing), it can be an emotionally rickety affair.
This time, though, it was 70 degrees. And sunny. In November. I patched the roof just fine. And then I sat. Our house is on a hill which means, from up top, I can see the lake. I can see fall colors for miles: maples and walnuts and all the rest. More important, though, it feels like I can see the whole world from up there (while the whole world can't see me). Who knew? My roof is in fact another particular harbor.
With that in mind, I'm heading back up tonight, under the stars, to "check my work." I suspect this might require a few hours, and perhaps a ukulele.
All it takes is you.
In the end, I've come to realize that the perfect particular harbor is whichever one is available at the time. The main challenge seems to be just recognizing it and appreciating it for what it is. How many good moments have I looked past because I was busy searching for a bigger one? There are kick-ass harbors all around us if we keep our eyes and our minds open to them.
I suppose now would be the point in the story where I reveal that I cancelled my trip because I found everything I need on the roof of my house.
Sorry. This story doesn't end like that.
They've got roofs in St. Croix too.
I'm on my way.