Jeesh. Sharpened my pencils, sat down, and just as I was going to put point to paper, something caught my eye. I forced myself not to look, to not let myself get distracted. Again. To no avail. Couldn’t believe what I thought I’d seen. Something even older than Col Davenport’s house. I got up and looked out to see the Nina and Pinta (well full scale replicas…) tying up just down river from my window. Had to investigate.
Making my way over I encountered a couple of young geniuses. Their caps were backwards, pants riding low, and they smelled like burning leaves. Standing well back they evinced a twinge of fear. “What’s that, man?” one said. “Ya” said the other. “They’re models of the Nina and Pinta” I said. I loved helping my kids with their homework years ago and was happy to be of service to the two young fellows.
“Huh?” “Ya, huh?” “Well, you know – two of the three caravels upon which: In fourteen hundred and Ninety-Two Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” Blank stares. “They’re boats” I said. “Ooooooh” they said in unison. Guess I’ve lost my touch. I let them marvel as I paid the modest admission fee and walked toward the gang plank.
The boats are small, the Nina only sixty-five feet in length and eighteen feet wide. Below deck is storage – only. The crew spent the whole voyage on deck, virtually unprotected from the elements. That is really mind-blowing to consider even though they did know that there was major landmass a good deal west of their point of departure. A body of knowledge that began with the Vikings made that fairly plain. They were though, of course, wrong with their thoughts of what it was.
Which brought to mind an interview with alpinist Voytek Kurtyka that I’d just read. “But hell, I’ve had several great things happen in my life against all reason. What’s even more interesting is that if you manage to do something is spite of reason, the level of satisfaction is even greater – downright divine…. If something is happening inside us, there can be no boredom, and life is beautiful. I create therefore I am.”*
A conflation of recollections of my own past escapades with thoughts of the mindsets of Columbus and crew upon their return home was tough to extinguish. Who gives a shit about gold? I needed though, badly, to get some work done and headed back toward my office when I noticed something else making fast to the seawall. It was huge. Damn. “Wonder what that is…” After I’d figured that out, it was time to take my friend Nellie for a walk in the woods.
Sure hope I figure out how to turn plan B into even a modest revenue stream before my little pile of precious metal runs out. Woe is me.
*Alpinist 43 Summer 2013 Interview by Zbyszek Skierski