Friday, August 18, 2017

Helms Alee

Take me to the middle of a river and feed me, and I'm yours for life.

As meals go, having one aboard a sailboat with my favorite river rats made for pretty spectacular eating.

I'd been eyeing the dropped wooden table in front of the helm sine the first time I'd set foot on the boat last summer, but today was the first time we set the boat to auto-cruise, pulled the table up and lunched on the Rappahannock.

In our own modified version of "Groundhog's Day," today's outdoor adventure, like yesterday's, began with a ride in the powerboat to see what we could see and ended up on the sailboat. With a whole lot of talk and laughing in between.

One major difference was that today we finished up our sail trying to outrun a squall. As the sole occupant of the bow when the going got rough, I tried to ignore the choppy water splashing up around me and keep my eyes fixed on the horizon.

Only occasionally did my stomach register a complaint about the rough water, but I didn't falter (much).

But without a doubt, the high point was breaking bread on the water with these two people who act like I'm doing them the favor by coming to visit, when the reality is I'm the lucky one. We've gotten so comfortable with each other that they can now discuss family matters in front of me and pause to listen when I put in my two cents' worth.

Today's voluminous cloud cover was a welcome relief from yesterday's unrelenting sun - with both female members of the crew having the overly brown legs to prove it - while also providing fodder for the cloud game (look, a strapless bra...look, a hen on a nest) when we felt inclined to play.

The captain was in fine comedic form as usual, coming up with the concept of The Church of the Holy Dolphin, wherein people would join in hopes of being reincarnated as a dolphin. To the three of us, it made about as much sense as any other church.

They regaled me with stories of the maritime artist John Barber coming to their house for dinner and took me on a water tour of some of the more notable locals' houses. We discussed the Monkees in depth and when we take a tangent to my long ago phone conversation with singer Bobbie Gentry, my friend demands to know if I'd asked her what Billy Joe McAllister threw off the Tallahatchee Bridge.

I have to admit I hadn't and she sighs in disappointment.

One of my favorite things about these two is that every sentence out of their mouths is an opening to sing a song. Mention darkness approaching and one begins to sing, "Hello darkness, my old friend..." or comment that the dog isn't as spastic as usual and I hear, "He's grown accustomed to your face..."

It's hilarious and non-stop. It also helps that both can sing. You won't find me inflicting my singing on anyone.

And when the sail was said and done, we took turns in the palatial outdoor shower so that we could go out to dinner without the stink of sailing, sweat and sunscreen on us.

We ate at Relish in Warsaw because so much of their sourcing -vegetables, fruits, seafood, meat - is within a few miles and because the place has a charming colorful vibe.

It was also date night and crowded, a testament to both the locals and the summer people. We briefly considered passing ourselves off as on a date - what, no man ever dated two women? - but decided we were too hungry for that and ordered with abandon.

No matter how good lunch on a sailboat is, it only takes you so far. The good news is, with the right friends, that's pretty far. I think these two know they've got me for life and they're okay with it.

Cue "Hungry Like the Wolf."

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