Jarvis Coffin: Off the Highway – Docks out

  • Jarvis Coffin COURTESY PHOTO

Published: 9/21/2023 9:02:05 AM
Modified: 9/21/2023 9:01:25 AM

Notice has been given by the nice people that handle the in and out of our dock that the time for out is upon us. Beginning in another couple of weeks, they will start making the rounds to button up the shoreline for winter.

This is usually when remorse settles in about how little time we spent during the season on the pond. Our engagement peaked in June when the grandchildren were here, which is the last time I tossed a fishing line in the water or slid on the rubber flippers hanging in the shed by the water (the prior owners called it the oar house, yuck, yuck), or brought a picnic down for lunch.

The grandchildren left and the rains came, and poof.

It rained hard again yesterday. The water level is up to the top step on the dock ladder and the surface of the water is littered with debris off the trees from gusty winds. The wind drives me indoors more than the rain. I ventured out a couple of times yesterday to prowl the yard, mostly to get the puppy, Huckleberry, up from the couch to go about his business, with short walks down the driveway and to the water. The rain slapped the side of my face.

Somehow, wind is exhausting. It is an antagonist, like a gang of rustlers riding into town. You can see the dust kicking up in the distance, and when they finally thunder in, the best bet is to retreat indoors while they clatter around, bang windows, swing doors, (oar house doors included), hurling things from one side of the street to the other. Afterward, out will come the rakes, brooms and baskets to carry the detritus away.

It is still breezy down by the pond where I have come to compose this garble. The sun goes in and out as the clouds get swept across the sky, causing me to lose sight of what I am garbling in the glare. This is a first for the season, sitting by the pond to write. Normally, I pad over to the office above the garage and write indoors, looking at the driveway.

Why write indoors, you might wonder, when there is a dock and Adirondack chairs nearby and a pond to muse over? Isn’t that what writers do? Sit under apple trees, or by seashores, or with a view of the mountains. Actually, most of them write anywhere they can, including cupboards and basements. It is simply the dock alarm bell ringing in my head. It spurs me to react the same way Huckleberry does when another dog comes over and makes a grab for the bone he has ignored for weeks. Suddenly, the bone is his most-prized possession. I am giving the dock its due.

But I think I began by writing that dock-out time was when remorse for the missed opportunities of the summer usually set in. It is different this year because of all the rain. I do not feel entirely responsible. In July and August, we bailed out the canoe more times than we paddled in it. We bailed again this past weekend and finally brought the canoe up on shore in a partial act of surrender.

There is also the fact our cabin was undergoing some renovations. That sort of disruption affects everything, like having house guests for two months. Yard work stalls, housekeeping goes by the boards, no one else comes over, we barely go to the post office. It did not help that one of us, my wife, was working nights and weekends at the Peterborough Players, which greatly impacted canoe cocktails. Probably, that had more to do with it than anything.

And for that, I am entirely responsible, because someone around here has to work for a living while the other is musing by the pond.

Maybe when the dock comes out I will coat it with teak oil.

Can you believe it is the end of September?

Jarvis Coffin and his wife Marcia owned New Hampshire’s oldest inn, The Hancock Inn, during which time he wrote a popular newsletter for the inn’s mailing list. Retired from innkeeping, he now writes full-time, mostly essays on rural life and fiction. You can reach him at huntspond@icloud.com, and visit postcard-from-monadnock.ghost.io to keep up with his other musings on the Monadnock region.

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