Foul Weather Commute Part 2: Steering For Home

Read Part 1 of M Dawn Thacker’s Foul Weather Commute: Into The Storm.

 

I feel like such a fool. Why didn’t I check the forecast before I headed out? Why didn’t I remember what the weatherman said about flooding this morning. Now I’m trying to stay the course in my parent’s fancy loaner—if I could run this barge aground, I would. I should just wait it out, but what if the rain keeps pouring all night? I inch forward, eyes straining for deadheads, rocks, and pedestrians, hoping for a let up and praying for the safety of home. Home sits high on a hill, dry and warm.

“We’d need an Ark if the river ever got up to us,” Bruce has said in the past.

I sit lower in the seat of the Merc cruiser. The prow juts forward and I catch fleeting glimpses of the lane ahead. Every once in a while, another brave seafarer goes past, splashing water onto my windshield. I’m brought to tears, but there’s already too much moisture. I grit my teeth and find resolve somewhere down deep, where mariners find these things.

It feels like my twenty minute voyage has been hours long. I crest on a surge and begin the last push toward Mechums River Bridge. One point two nautical miles on a straight course to home. I’m almost there. I can feel the tension ease in my shoulders and I relax my grip the tiller. At the bottom of the slope, Rt. 250 splits. Rt. 240 proceeds straight ahead and all I have to do is cross the bridge, bear left, staying on 250, and go under the train trestle. Home is the berth at the next outcrop. In my mind, I see the glow of my kitchen lighthouse welcoming me.

I start toward the bridge, and turn the wheel to the left. I hear the water splash against the hull of the cruiser. Then suddenly, she’s not going where I want her to. She’s gliding, like a car hydroplaning on water, and heading straight over.

I crank the wheel and it does no good; the water has a mind of its own and I’m sliding on the surface, drifting aft. I sound the horn and slow the engines. (The brakes don’t work either.) My heart pounds in time with the wipers, “whump, whump, whump.” I suddenly think about my children, my husband, and how I was always afraid of burning in a fire. No fear of that now. I hope that I am still a good swimmer.

The rudder suddenly grabs and the wheel jerks in my hand. I reef the tiller and feel the old girl jerk to a stop. I realize I’m holding my breath, and then the tears let loose. I sit for a long time, bobbing safely across from the dangerous channel, crying, breathing, and thanking God for tending anchor. Still shaking, I pull myself together, veer starboard, and make for the dock. The rain has let up a little, though the wipers are still slapping across the windshield. I can see our wharf ahead, the light shining; my kitchen window, a beacon welcoming me. I let go of the wheel just long enough to wipe my eyes.

I hear the port hatch open and look over to Bruce, standing alongside.

“I tried to call you,” he says. “I saw the storm heading your way and wanted to tell you to stay put until the worst of it was over. It’s rained steady all day, but this last downpour was awful. I couldn’t even see the road from the window. You alright?”

“She held, despite the worst, though her keel may have run aground at the reef,” I respond, spouting gibberish.

He takes my hand and helps me up, closing the door of my parent’s car behind me. I lean into him for a few seconds, land legs wobbly, just feeling his arms around me. The rain has stopped. I hear Peepers in the distance, the little frogs—and the first time this season. Spring has arrived and life resumes for the peaceful lubbers. But for us, the captains of the foul weather commute, a chance to brave the elements will soon come again.

 

Foul Weather Commute Part 2: Steering For Home © 2011 M Dawn Thacker. Read more of M Dawn’s features and stories, click her tag.

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