We had been on the move for a month. Starting out, I had tried to teach Betsy how to manage the boat, taking any opportunity to teach and keep her informed of the process, make her part of it. Of course she was pregnant. The workings of a sailboat held no interest. Her preoccupation was total. I might as well have been moving the boat single handed.
Going in shallow, inland waterways that I was unfamiliar with, in a boat that was new, and with a set of skills not much practiced in ten years, which were limited to begin with; complications arose all the time: I ran the boat aground, I ran us out of fuel, I nearly got us run over by a grain barge. I navigated us into swamps through Louisiana that went on for actual days, and were populated by sunbathing alligators and cottonmouth water snakes. Along the route, there was one civilized marina, in Lake Charles, where Betsy got to take a shower.
I learned to read the silent signs of her displeasure, filtered and transformed as needs of the baby. On her behalf, I justified, I encouraged, her self-indulgence, whatever form it took. I was quick to mitigate in favor of her comfort. She depended on me to get us through the swamps. My devotion to the miracle growing in her womb was total.
In the swamps, going seven miles an hour, we were patient with each other, equally patient with circumstances of geography and weather, with my mistakes, and the boat’s malfunctions. I ran aground and grew more precise in navigating and piloting. I remembered, and learned again, to read the surface of the water, trust the depth-sounder of my instincts. The forces of wind and wave produced a direction for the boat to go naturally. Patience was the virtue of the easy way.
The more mistakes I made, the more I trusted the boat to forgive me. I could handle Mysterion by myself.
Photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/keyslibraries/3720398143/”>Florida Keys–Public Libraries</a> via <a href=”https://visualhunt.com”>Visualhunt</a> / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>CC BY</a>