Friday, March 26, 2010

The Dangerous Season - Deadly Spring Fever

I don't know this man, but I can tell you that he's an idiot, self-absorbed and without regard for at least one of his fellow beings - his dog. I know this about him already because on March 1st, he was in a canoe on the open Atlantic ocean without a life jacket. The water temperature was 39 degrees Fahrenheit. Had he gone into the water, he and his dog would have been dead of hypothermia in under ten minutes. We saw him paddle from the cove and out into the harbor. He struggled to return against the wind and then the outgoing tide. David and I paced by the windows watching him drift further and further out to sea. I felt sick and wondered for a second if he was deliberately trying to kill himself, unlikely since he had his dog. In the summer, there would be loads of boat traffic. Someone already on the water would help him. But, before Memorial Day weekend, there is hardly a soul here. The fishermen who work the water all year don't exactly have an office one could call for an appeal for help; they work from thier boats. If we had a radio we could have made a general distress broadcast. The Coast Guard is an hour away if they are available at all. So, we watched helplessly, praying he didn't go into the water. We watched him dig hard into the chop trying to get to the "Red Nun," a navigational buoy midway between Hermit Island and the Newberry Point shores. He rose on swells and dissapeared into the troughs repeatedly. We could imagine his breathlessness, the burning pain in his arms are he worked, not being able to rest for a second for going backward if he did. We frantically called some guys working on a construction crew down the road who would have been able to see him after we lost site. There was nothing they could do either, just watch him helplessly and mumble "Dumb bastard! What a freakin' idiot" and hope for the best. The dog had no choice in the matter and would have died just as quickly in a flailing panic in the water. I took this photo when the man passed back by our house. He waived to me, quickly, not losing a paddle stroke. Squinting into binoculars, I grimaced, not waiving back. I wondered what he said when he got back to where he came from. Did he have any idea what a stupid, selfish thing he had done? Probably not. This is a dangerous time of year. It's the time when hopes are high that winter is over, finally. The sun is shining brightly and some days it's warm. The songs of birds are everywhere and they have changed to songs of love and desire in the trees. Gardeners and weekend yard warriors go outside for the first time in months and get really carried away. This is the time of year when back injuries are made and raw, oozing blisters appear where skin has ground off under the rake's handle. We'll all be lured by the sun into biting off more than we can chew. In January, seed catalogs with their shimmering flowers beckoned with the sirens calls of addiction, "Buy me, order me, lust for me, you want me!" And I did. Boxes are arriving in overnight mail from southern growers.  The boxes are stamped with red, screaming instructions,"PERISHABLE," "DO NOT CRUSH," "PLANT NOW," "REFRIGERATE!" I was so quick to jump in with my credit cards, but now I ask myself  "What have I done? How will I ever get all of this into the ground? Where will I put it?!" On the kitchen counter the little plants having rushed to get here, now languish, stranded. Shriveled tendrils of young plants wind their way through tangles of packing, yellowing in despair with every day that they aren't planted. Bare root stock, pathetic and hopeless looking sticks, begins to crack open to pinks, thin greens and creamy yellow begging to go into the ground. There doesn't seem to be enough daylight to get it all done fast enough. And yet,they seemed like such a good idea at the time. And then, it will snow. Deep, wet and heavy snow will crush my budding joy. Last night the temperatures plummeted and it will be colder still tonight. The pinging of hail and ice striking the greenhouse glass woke me. I imagined the primrose blossoms freezing and cracking apart. I thought of that man in the canoe, and his dog.
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  1. I go back to a pin I wore on my denim jacket as a teenager in my younger years....

    "Stupid people shouldn't breed"

  2. The idiot in the bow is one thing...but how 'bout the little slacker in the stern? Not even lifting a paw to help paddle. The whole trip was probably HIS idea in the first place.

    Wait a minute! Is That Jesus Christ? He lives in Phippsburg?


  3. Terrific picture and comment.

  4. The fella should consider himself very lucky as the sea does not make a habit of being so forgiving.

    I have seen fools take to the sea in a kayak or canoe and not have a clue as to what they are doing. Most will not return alive, as I witnessed on two separate occasions back in 2007 near Biddeford Pool.

  5. "Everyone is entitled to be stupid, but some abuse the privilege".

    These are the people you read about on the 6pm news.

  6. Ain't that the truth! Even if he does think he's Jesus Christ.......

  7. I don't know what happened to my response I wrote...AGAIN but I hope this one makes it to your blog! "Canoe Man" and his devoted dog(he would have to be to get into the canoe with him) probably saw this "Young Chick" across the way wearing nothing more than her bathrobe and couldn't help himself. Lucky for you he didn't make it! When we age unfortunately, we do lose a little ground but let's hope YOU never lose your sense of humor!
    "Happy Birthday, Young Chick!"

  8. Thanks for writing something about every dumb bastard who has ever done this. Hopefully they live to learn their lesson....or what would Darwin say? I had a similiar experice when I was staying at a cottage on Clarey lake, except it was october so the ass hole would have lasted a little longer before the last watery breath. I called 911 and the boat the rescue people sent had an enginve that wouldn't start. My guy actually fell into the water but was able to climb back in and then drift down to the south shore. It was only a lake after all. Bet he didn't go back out in a boat for awhile. I had to yell upstairs and get my girlfriend off the computer from checking her personal ads......that part was funny. But the helplessness of it all and the witnessing of the pure stupidity of it.
    I have a line I want to use but have no context....In Maine, spring hopes eternal.....please credit me if you steal it.