There is a Season

The wind is Southerly tonight. Through the porch window I watch the golden flowers on the
Rose of Sharon bush whip, dip and dive. The whine of the autumn wind reaches my ears even
through the double-glazed windows. It is the twentieth of October and the nights are, as we
say locally, “drawing in”. We wake to darkness in the mornings, called into consciousness by
the reporters on “Morning Ireland”, and it is almost dark again when we get home from work
in the evenings. Trees lose their leaves at this time of year; animals hibernate; the weather
gets colder; and summer sailors and fishermen bring their boats ashore for the winter.
All summer, “Whatever” (our beloved 18 foot Hardy fibreglass fishing boat) sat at her
moorings, her head held high and into the wind, looking as enthusiastic as a thoroughbred
racehorse in a starting stall, ready to go to sea whenever we were. Like most summers, we
had some great days: down by the Dog Rock; out beyond the mouth of the harbour; at the
row off Pulleen; at the South side of Bere Island; under the lighthouse at Ardnakinna; off
Fair Head and around the Pipers Rocks. Calm days, rough days, days with plenty of fish and
days with few. Sometimes the sea was calm and quiet, the rays of sunlight sparkling on the
surface dazzling us. On other days the sea was “fresh”, “loppy”, “choppy”, even “dirty”.
However, whether the sea was flat calm or fairly rough, each day was special.
It is said that the two best days in a man’s life are the day that he buys a boat and the day that
he sells. If that is the case, then it is certainly true that the two best days of a man’s year are
the day that he puts his boat into the water and the day that he takes her out. The first is filled
with anticipation, suspense and wonder; the second with contentment and relief.
There is also a sense of sadness at the end of each season, but then, too, there is a season for
everything, and for this year our season for boating has come to an end.
And so it was that yesterday morning I gathered the oars and rowlocks and rowed out in the
punt to where “Whatever” was moored about twenty metres from the pier. I climbed aboard
and started the engine. Having tied the punt securely to the cleat on the transom, I let go the
mooring and set my course for Rerrin in Bere Island.
We steamed through calm, grey-green water and eased our way between large yachts with
towering masts, and sleek, stylish cruisers, until we were lying contentedly beside the marina.
Soon afterwards the hoist was ready and “Whatever” was lifted, quietly and uncomplainingly,
The mooring looks bare and empty now with just a lonely-looking, bright orange-coloured
buoy floating there. In Bere Island “Whatever” is sitting peacefully on chocks, watched over
by Patrick and his family, safe for the winter from wind and weather. She looks well there,
showing off her fine lines to all who care to notice. But, like myself, she is only biding her
time until the days lengthen and the winter is past. Like myself, she is resting just now but
after a coat of antifoul and an oil change for the engine, she will be ready for action again.
For the present we are ashore – but we are both looking out to sea.