The horn blows one long. Ships’ bell rings. Liberty, Liberty, Liberty. Grab your Black Seal rum and put your dress flags on. Roll up your wake and run bareboat with me. Unlace the lines, let them fall down the back of the deck. Pleasure boat would you give me the pleasure of your company?
Take my handrail and we’ll skip past the crab pots in Long Island Sound to the place where it narrows down, twists and turns into the East River. Rubbing fenders with Rikers Island and the UN, we crowd in with the floating masses waiting to ask the same question. Rounding the rock of Manhattan you see her. The patinated lady. It’s finally your turn. “Which way to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?” you ask. Her shy smile is silent but the enlightenment in her left hand, engraved Independence Day, points the way. North towards the key to the continent – the Hudson River. The running lights wink. Is the penny in your loafer of greater value than the soul in your deck shoe?
Surprise! Cutwater throws the bow wake up as the sun ignites the salt spray. Zephyr whispers, “Remember me?” Your hearts desire. Your Huck Finn. Sparks of ocean shiver down your spine. The Hudson’s native name comes to mind. The Mahicantuck. Meaning great waters in contestant motion. Is that a name you see too much of your reflection in? Pistons drumming impatiently. Astern engine idles; pushing the bow along. Leave the monoliths of men behind for a time. Slow life’s pace to 8 knots and drift with me. Parceling out each passage I’ve made, picking the perfect one. I built a ship of dreams out of the places I have been. There is no destination more dreamscape than a Hudson River Valley. Working on working boats I give my pleasure cruise to you. Up the tidal basin, an estuary’s pulse ebbs and rises in Thomas Cole’s divine light. You can rinse off your work clothes and hang them to dry over the Tappan Zee bridge. Your Indian Summer waits.
Liberty, Liberty, Liberty. No shoes required.
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