On this tour, I was still single and socialized with students and occasionally dated staff members. I guess I was attractive enough, because some very nice guys asked me out. Sometimes I accepted their offers. At the time of the iceboat day, however, I was in a carful of other people. We were on an outing, not a date. It was daytime, possibly on Sunday, which I usually took as a weekly day off during a tour.
I think back to seeing the iceboats. They were probably racing. Their sails were full while they zipped along. As I watched them, I could imagine the freezing wind on my face and the magical blur of passing scenery. I asked if there was any way I could get a ride on one of those boats. I was to be disappointed. The kids I was with were exceedingly kind and hospitable to me, but none of them knew anyone who had or ran an iceboat.
I suppose I could go iceboating in my head. I’ve been out in very cold weather. On one winter tour up in Canada, it was frequently fifteen to twenty below zero. It was interesting to learn there that the air did not feel cold in a dry climate. I had to be careful to dress warmly enough, because the bitter cold was not bitter. My face and nose got numb quickly, especially in the wind, but to me back then, they did not hurt. That came later after I was again inside, thawing out, my skin burning while it woke up again.
I could imagine now being bundled up in my fake shearling coat, which is very warm. I would have double wool socks on my feet inside my size eight Doc Marten boots that I still wear. They are eights because I had a broken foot a few years ago that stayed swollen for a long time after I hurt it. The size eight Docs were quite useful. After my foot went back down, I got a pair of gel insoles for those Docs. They fit all right now with heavy socks and the insoles. I think they would be excellent for iceboating. I would have on a cashmere muffler and wear my shearling Russian hat if moths have not eaten too much of it. I also used to have Irish shearling gloves, but I think they finally died or got lost in our last move. I have not seen them in several years. I do have some fake Polartec gloves with an Animal Rescue Society label. I could probably use those maybe pulled over a smaller pair of woolen gloves. So I imagine myself stuffed in warm winter wear, looking like a hassock with eyeglasses, sitting wherever a passenger would sit in an iceboat. I like to imagine I would be looking forward, but I would take facing backwards if that was all I could get. It would be bright and cold, so cold the air would seem to be crackling. I would feel the wind trying to find my cheeks to lay the flat of its cold knife blade on them -- threatening but not perilous like the sharp edge -- while the boat captain would set the sail and release the brake (do they have a brake? There must be some way of braking). We would fly down across the ice so fast. It would be dead quiet with just the wind, because it is sailing, no motor. It would be eye-burning bright because of the sun and snow. It would be too fast and over much too soon. I would want them to tack back (do iceboats tack across the wind? I cannot think why they would not) so we could reach or run again. I would want to sit in that boat until long blue shadows were in the snow, then I guess they would have to peel me out of my seat. I know I would be stiff and cold but very happy.
I get a similar joy from rainbows. Luckily for me, I live in a part of the world where they are frequent, thus more accessible. There are not as many as there were one day of my honeymoon in Scotland on the road from Glasgow to Mull. We saw three in the space of half an hour. Here, however, we do get them satisfyingly often.
Just a few days ago, I saw a tremendous rainbow. I was coming back up the hill on the 104 from the 305 intersection. I rounded a bend, when suddenly there it was. I did not yet see the entire arch, but the lower stem on the right was really bright. You could see the raindrops washing the colors’ edges in it. For the moment, which was a long one, nearly fifteen minutes, the rainbow shone. It developed into a full arch. There was a faint second bow trying to form to the right next to the first.
I reminded myself I was in a car and driving. Rainbows are supposed to be lucky, so I kept my eyes more fully on the road and stole peeks at the bow as I drove up to where I turn off and go up to my house. I hung a left onto my road, which is a straight hill up to our condo. Then I said “wow” out loud. The entire arch stretched like a giant benediction over where I live. It was heart-lifting. I heard the enormous mental C chord that goes off my head when I see something amazing, like the first time I saw the windows at St. Chapelle in Paris. The rainbow was so bright that there was an additional thin rainbow underscoring the large one. Also, the sibling rainbow to the right side still was faintly there as well, following its brother.
I drove up the hill and around to the back and parked my car. I climbed out quickly and looked to the north. There were too many trees. The rainbow was gone. But I felt like it had been just a ton of good luck shining down. I ran into Don, my neighbor retiree from the Navy who also does some maintenance and keeps an eye on our buildings and grounds. He told me the county had just approved a water-saving garden for our complex. These gardens are part of a local scheme to filter water for the watershed before it returns down to salmon runs and the Sound.
This was wonderful news. There is a twenty-foot-long water-catching hollow next to our condo building. Ever since we moved here, I have wondered if it would be possible to plant a garden in or around it. Now the county will install rocks and gravel and plant it out for us with hardy native perennials. The stones and plants will act as the water filter. The condo across the street from us got one, which looks very good. There is another big beautiful water garden down below the skateboard park about a mile from where I live. We don’t have to pay anything to anybody other than to make sure our groundsmen do not kill any of the plants.
I’m totally pumped. That rainbow was the best kind of luck.