Will Travel for Words: Super Moons and Sailboats
Last weekend, I found myself sleeping under a super moon, on a sailboat anchored in the river near the Chesapeake. The boat belongs to my guy, Ted, and I’m trying to learn how to sail with him. While upon it, I found myself trying to apply information I had recently read in a couple articles.
The first was from the May issue of Women’s Health, an article called “Get Outside.” The Editor-in-Chief, Michele Promaulayko, introduced the article in her letter from the Editor. Women’s Health commissioned a study with The Nature Conservancy, and they found that women who spend time outdoors (in real nature, not at an outdoor mall) relax and refresh the parts of their “brain that run self-control, focus and attention.” That can help ward off heart disease and lower rates for breast cancer. All it takes is a few hours each week.
Think of this for a moment. When was the last time you left the concrete jungle behind? Left your home for the hills or the river? I bike. I go for walks. But often it’s in the city. I feel like I exercised, but I don’t necessarily feel at peace.
The other article was from NPR. Overexposed: How Camera Phones Could Be Washing Out Our Memories. Each time adults and children are snapping pictures, we’re not in the moment and we’re losing our ability to speak about what we’re seeing. As a writer, I can easily see that if we’re losing our ability to speak about our experiences, we’re going to lose our ability to write about them, too. We see what we were doing, but how well can we write about what we hear, feel, touched and smelled, if we haven’t truly experienced the moment?
Enter the sailboat and the night of the Super Moon. At first, it was overwhelming to want to photograph the event. Especially having spent years behind a camera, and because the moon was 14% closer to us than usual. So we did. We snapped a couple of pictures. Then I remembered the two articles. The key to growing as a writer and a person, I reminded myself, is to apply what I’ve learned and read.
So, here’s what I experienced. Not in pictures, but in words.
The boat slowly rocked in the brackish, salty water. It swayed under the tug and groan of the anchor, and I tucked into the crook of Ted’s arm, still warm from exposure in the day’s hot sun. As the night came on, that sunset turned the darkening sky amber. Then from behind a shadowy band of trees on the far bank, the moon winked. She came up slow. Big. Fat. Brilliant. Orange. The woman in the moon sent her reflection out over the water to shake hands with our boat. A carpet along the ripping water that made me want to walk out to greet her.
As she rose high, and our heads drooped with fatigue, we stretched out on the deck to sleep under the stars. I couldn’t recall the last time I went to bed with only the big dipper as my ceiling, the moon my nightlight. I don’t ever recall hearing the crickets and the katydids from afar. In summer they swarm the trees nearby, but from this sailboat offshore they click and croak over there. What is heard around me now is river. Fish kiss the surface. Water tickles the hull. Cables clink in masts. I don’t recall going to sleep, but after midnight I woke up with a dewy complexion. Literally. The wet night air had settled on my cheeks. My lashes. My pillow. Nature had found me.
And once again, I had traveled not to find pictures, but for words.
Karen A. Chase is a regular contributor to Shelf Pleasure, sharing journeys near and far in the pursuit of stories and novels in her monthly feature, Will Travel for Words. She is the author of Bonjour 40: A Paris Travel Log, winner of seven Independent Book Publishing Awards for travel and design. She is currently working on an historical novel set during the American Revolution. Find Karen on Facebook or on Twitter.
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