Tide

The scent of place ties me to the memory of it. Walking into my shop and smelling varnish and linseed oil transports me to boat shops and boatyards where I’ve worked. Without a moment in transport, I’ve returned, even if it was long ago. Sometimes these “smellucinations” are just a bit too close to tearing the veil of reality.
I left the mid-coast in 1975 for grad school as my first marriage dissolved. I didn’t return until the dissolution of my career, as an applied anthropologist, completed and a rebirth as a carver began.
Never really being satisfied as a flatlander, I had found ways to work boatbuilders, marlinespike people, and lobstermen into the cultural programs on which I worked.
Then I got involved. I was drawn back in. You couldn’t even call it a seduction because I dove in headfirst.
I helped hang planks on a dory with a boatbuilder. I started working at my friend’s booths at boat shows, explaining to the uninitiated what a mast hoop was. Then one day, someone walked up to the booth looking for a transom banner and was referred to me.
Soon I was running my own small shop. I was ‘Yahd Cavah” at a boatyard, and I even ran ads in WoodenBoat magazine. An offer spend a week in coastal Maine teaching a Maritime carving course was not an offer I’d turned down.
The first morning I decided to walk the two miles to the shop where I’d be working. I had never been to this particular community, this specific island before. As I walked down the road, the scent of spruce came to me. Being not far from the water, the salt scent of the sea surrounded me. Not too far away, a tidal flat gave off that distinctive odor of low tide.
Off to the west, a small road led to a cove. I could almost see the 34-foot ketch Psyche swinging at her mooring, my bane, and pleasure. The Cap’n would be shoving his pipe full and agitating to set sail.
I shook free of the hallucination. It had been years since I thought of any of that. I hurried on to shop.

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