This cozy spot is at Linekin Bay Resort, a magical place in Maine where Richard and I took our last vacation together. We had come there to sail–Richard had fond memories of a week his family had spent there when he was a kid. At Linekin Bay, “all-inclusive” means a room with a view, world class dining AND a 16′ sailboat of your own and lessons each day, out on the waters of Booth Bay. Weather permitting.
Nine years ago this week, I was sitting in one of those spindly chairs doing an ancient jigsaw puzzle atop that table by the window. Richard took a nap. The puzzle was missing a few pieces but assembling it under the quaint yellow light from that lamp soothed my cabin fever. Incessant rain pelted the balsam trees outside. A cold June fog settled in so thick that we couldn’t see Cabbage Island.
I had read both books that I had packed for a two week trip. There were no TVs at Linekin. No pool table or XBox. The resort offered many activities–sailing, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, lobster bakes, hiking…weather permitting. We had already gone shopping in the nearby towns. Richard wasn’t usually one for sleeping, but that was about all there was to do. We didn’t know that his energy was so low because of the leukemia. I read, he slept. I did puzzles, he slept. We ate lobster for lunch and dinner. He cracked and peeled mine for me because I found it ooky yet delicious.
The resort’s fleet of twenty sailboats lay moored just past the dock, but invisible in the fog. I cracked the side window an inch so I could listen to the music of the halyards ringing against the masts. A halyard is the rope with metal clips that lifts the sail up the mast. This inland girl had never heard that term until a few days before, but I adored the sound of the word itself and the sound made by the thing, too. To this day, that sound of wind flapping metal against hollow metal takes me back to Maine.
My puzzle was complete–minus the pieces lost years before–and there were several rainy hours to fill before dinner. I opened the only book I could find in the guest room, a coffee table book about yachts. Along with the dizzying pictures of boats slicing through the deep sea, my eyes so hungry for something to read found page after page of quotes about sailing and boats.
One stuck with me, that day as we floated in a fog dream, Richard already fighting an illness we couldn’t name and me anxiously pulling at my anchor.A ship in harbor is safe — but that is not what ships are built for. John A. Shedd, Salt from My Attic, 1928
We thought we were safe that day, but we weren’t. I thought boredom was my greatest challenge that afternoon, but it wasn’t. This quote came back to me a year later when I was a widow at 36. Steering my own ship, venturing out from the harbor. Finding out what I was built for.