As sunlight stays less and less here at camp, so have gone the activity here as well. Martha has been on her vacation. Gary and Vickie have been tied up with meetings throughout the week. The maintenance staff has been at work deep cleaning the Conference Center. This is a week where you get to do those things that have been waiting patiently for you to not have something more pressing.
I decided this week to get the camp sailboat out and try to figure it out. Yes, Lakeshore has a sailboat. It’s a nice one too. I’ve been told it’s not one of the most simple you can own. It’s not exactly ideal for a first timer to try to navigate (I’m not really sure why, because I know very little about sailing). Since I don’t know sailing lingo very well, I won’t attempt to explain this sail boat too much. It has been sitting around at camp, never sailed, since it was donated to us several years ago. I’ve wanted to try it, but rarely had the time and never had the experience to do it on my own. But, I was determined this week to get it out, clean it up, take it apart, put it back together, hoist the sail, and, if time permitted, take that baby out into the water. Monday was a beautiful day with temperatures in the 60s, so it seemed like destiny. If I had any luck, I would be out on the Tennessee River, sailing for the first time. In my mind, it was such a free feeling–out there in the open water, just using the elements to push you along. No motor drowning out all the sounds of the river.
Of course, sailing is a tough thing to do. Equally difficult, I think, is rigging a sailboat. The parts of this boat seem simple enough, and, to a point, they are. The mast points up. There’s a sail attached to it. There’s another piece that goes out to the side of the boat that the bottom of the sail attaches to. Then, there’s a rudder that attaches to the back. So, there. All I had to do was figure out how to hook all of that stuff up in a way that would hold and not fall on my head with the first gust of wind. I could not decide on a way that I trusted enough to even attempt–and this was with the boat still on land. I consulted Corky, and he felt about as knowledgeable about sailing as I did. I believe he said, “this is a whole new ballgame.” So, there was no hoisting of the sails this week. There was only a rudimentary cleaning and tarping back down. Pulling all of that out, though, just makes me want to sail even more. I can visualize myself much better now that I’ve been inside the boat and looked through all the compartments and boxes. I imagine myself sailing the Tennessee, connecting with the Ohio, and going anywhere in the country I want to go to. Stopping at marinas for food. Sleeping on the water under the hull of the camp’s little sailboat. Ah, it sounds nice.
Later this week, I decided to climb a tree near camp that had some pretty sizeable dead branches that need to be pruned. I had not climbed in a while and was really itching to get back in a tree. It was a pretty cold day by this point in the week, but it didn’t detur me enough to keep me from harnessing up, tossing the ropes into the tree and climbing it. I could see the roof of every building at camp. I could see a great spread of the river and Pilot’s Knob. I could also see me hand shaking a bit, because I hadn’t been in a tree that high in quite a while. It took me some time to get past the nervousness. But, I did what I normally do when that happens–just stop climbing and get used to it. Then I move on a little more. As I got to the first branch I wanted to prune, I was still nervous from the heights. I kept questioning myself: if I had tied the knots right, if I had checked the equipment enough. All of these things were silly–I had done everything just fine. It’s just something that gets into your head. Now that I think about it, I was much more nervous in the tree (the skill I’ve been trained for and done many times) than I was trying to hoist a sail (something I’d never done before). The nervousness faded, though, when I began trying to saw through the dead branch I had my sights on. This was a white oak, and the branch took a very long time to saw through. It was dead, but clearly not rotten too bad. I sized this dead branch up and saw it as a smaller one. It would be a good one to start out on and get warmed up. I thought, originally it was about the size of my arm. After much sawing, huffing, puffing, sweating, and changes of position to keep my leg from falling asleep, I finally dropped the dead branch. When I finally returned to the bottom, I picked it up, and it was about as tall as me.
We occasionally look at something and don’t immediately recognize exactly how big a task it will be for us. With that said, though, I really hope that I keep taking on tasks that are bigger than I realize. May you all have a wonderful week. We’ll be taking off a little while for the holidays. May they be good for you and all of yours. O come, O come Emmanuel.