Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Fourth of July Sailing Celebration

I'm sitting at the computer in our New Hampshire house on a late July afternoon, listening to the rain pattering down outside the window, with even a bit of thunder distantly rumbling thrown in. It's a typical rainy summer day in New Hampshire, with highs in the 70's and lows in the 60's. Its kind of nice, but its nothing like the summers I remember in Missouri growing up.

Summers in Missouri are, for the most part, hot and steamy. I can remember them before the advent of air conditioning, when summer evenings could be too hot to sleep, even with the doors to the back porch flung wide open, and my grandmother's exhaust fan going full blast. And a thunderstorm meant flashing lightning, violent winds, and pouring rain, not this gentle dribble we're getting today.

But over the Fourth of July we had invited our kids to come sailing with us. They usually visit over Christmas, which although fun, doesn't give us a chance to show off New England's glorious summer weather. So we enticed them with a promise of blissful sailing on the cool ocean breezes, and they bit.

Sarah and Erik decided to spend the first couple of days of their vacation in the city, taking in a Red Sox game. A couple of days before they were due to arrive, we received an email from Erik, subject matter "Top Secret". He told us he was planning on proposing to Sarah while they were in Boston, and we were ordered to say nothing until the deed was done. Lee was down working on some last minute fixes on the boat, so I had nobody to talk to except the dogs. I proceeded to jump up and down madly in the kitchen for a minute or so, uninhibitedly shouting "YES YES YES" before I calmly responded to Erik's note. There was no-one to tell and nothing to do except keep the secret as best I could.

The day before the Fourth we picked Daniel up at the airport. As we were waiting for his plane to land I received a phone call from Sarah. "Do you know why I'm calling mom? " Sarah said smilingly. "I think so!" I replied. So, we have an engagement, and its pretty darn exciting. The sailing trip turned into a 4 day celebration for all concerned.

We spent the afternoon and the evening of the
Fourth on the boat with Daniel. I had been doing some reading about the best way to get good pictures of fireworks. I wouldn't have an ideal situation, on a rocking boat without a tripod, but I would do the best I could. The best advice I found was to use a flash, and to take lots of shots, so that some of them would get the fireworks in full "bloom", so that's what I did. Some of them came out pretty good in spite of my limitations. But that's the trouble with learning more about photography. I know my pictures could have
been so much better, if my technique was more advanced. There's a lot to learn about photography, and my aging brain is having a hard time taking it all in.

On the fifth, Sarah and Erik took the ferry from Boston to Salem, Mass, where our boat is located. It was a beautiful, clear, sunny, HOT day. It was really, really hot for New England, with highs in the 90's every day on the boat. We stayed hydrated, and tried to stay in the shade. It cooled off a bit at night, but this weather was not what we had expected when we were bragging about New England in the summertime.

Out on the water, however, it was pretty nice. We repeated parts of our trip with Gail and Phil
from last fall, enjoying all the improved features on the boat. The electronics are new this year, the sails have been cleaned, the mast painted, and the rigging replaced. There are still things that need to be done, but its very nice having a good GPS and a depth sounder that really works.

One afternoon we went into Gloucester,  searching for fish for dinner. It was incredibly hot, and I started worrying about the dogs burning their feet on the sidewalk. I finally decided it was better to take them back to the park when our dinghy was docked. Along the way a nice business had put out a bowl of water for passing dogs. Both dogs drank deeply, and then Cosmo stepped right into the bowl with his front feet! Realizing that he couldn't get his back feet in as well, he proceeded to splash water all over the adjacent sidewalk and then laid down in the puddle he had just created. Sometimes we think Cossy isn't that bright, but this was absolutely brilliant doggie thinking!

Back at the boat, Sarah and Daniel had had enough of the heat. The ocean in New England is not normally swimmable, in my opinion, unless you are a native. The average temperature is about 60 degrees, way too cold unless you are wearing a wetsuit. But when it is 95 degrees and the sun is beating down, 60 degree water can feel pretty good. Only Sarah and Daniel got in the water in Gloucester, but by the next day in Marblehead we were all in there with them. I stayed in for awhile too and it felt absolutely great.

The last afternoon in Marblehead, I took the dogs for a walk in a nearby park. I had it in my head to take a picture in the same spot as I had taken a picture of Harper last year, but while we were there a brief thunderstorm blew through. We took shelter under a wisteria vine. Wisteria is beautiful, but it is very massive and heavy. I'd like to have one but it would need a more sturdy structure than anything I have in the yard right now. Maybe someday...

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