Saturday, 23 July 2011
No Civilized Life, This, by Ken Miller
There’s something about the Ste. Marys that brings out the joy in people. Not the not the joy of a mere civilized life, but the splash-in-the-mud-puddle joy of an uninhibited three year-old. There is something that releases the joy of childhood in someone no matter how long they have been around, no matter what they have seen, how many times they have scolded their children or scowled at a spouse. When they venture out upon the Ste Marys the river will release that hidden joy within.
So it was no surprise when, as I sat reading on the deck of Devil’s Dream, II (my gently aging Tartan 34 sailboat), that I saw Rex and Larry putting downstream on a home-made raft. It was a latter-day Huck and a very pale Jim making their way south on what looked like three pallets, some blocks of Styrofoam, and two old tires, powered by a tiny outboard motor. Seated on two home-built chairs and flying the Jolly Roger (under the National Ensign, of course), they were on their way back in time to their tenth year, each shedding 60-odd years with enthusiasm and, I must admit, a certain flair.
I immediately jumped up and in my most officious voice asked if their vessel was Coast Guard inspected. They proudly pointed to a registration number on the side of the contraption proclaiming that it was properly registered with the State of Michigan as a watercraft. I was astounded into speechlessness, a state that I seldom occupy.
I quickly ducked below and grabbed my camera. The picture you see here is how I found them on the river. By now I expect that Rex and Larry are somewhere south of here, lying full-length on a sandbar, eating their fresh-caught dinner, hiding from the slave-catchers, and having the time of their young lives.