This is where it all started. This scrappy little MiniFish sailboat on the shore of Lake Michigan. It's not even my boat. It belongs to our amazing, strong, creative, kind hearted neighbors Carol and Chuck. When I was just a wee girl with parents who "didn't do boats", they trusted the tiller and main sheet of their little sailboat to me and started something way bigger than they could have ever imagined.
I remember not understanding the wind or how to tack (zigzag) back against it to where I started and having to swim it back or drag it along the shallows. I remember on light wind days laying back across the boat with my toes dragging in the water and my hair dangling over the side feeling like I could go on like that forever, and then noticing my dad waving his arms wildly from the bluff top for me to tack back closer to shore. I remember the rough windy days when Carol said it wasn't good sailing weather because there were white caps on the waves, and I would stare and stare hoping the sheer power of my gaze would make those white caps dissolve so I could go out and be free. I remember the day Chuck died, too early in his young life, and I drove like a maniac cross country to be there to hug Carol and take her son D to the beach to write our woes in the sand for the tide to carry off. That was the last I saw of the little boat, the one that lit my fire and started my life down this watery path.
Until I got the call. My brother was breathless as he described scrambling down the bluff with his daughter K and with Chuck and Carol's now grown son D and seeing a corner of tarp sticking up from the mud. They dug and dug and dug... and found the boat. It was buried for 8 years right where Chuck had left it, but covered by the ever eroding bluff.
And this week I walked that beach with my son, just about 25 years after I first sailed that little boat. And on a perfect light wind day, when the waters of Lake Michigan become so clear you'd think you were in the tropics, we rigged her up and sailed her again. This time with my son and my niece.
As I handed the tiller and main sheet over to my sweet 9 year old niece K, she smiled and said, "Aunt Cindy, I think I was meant to sail." And so the circle continues.