We cast off our lines and left Anacortes this morning, the first step in our trip south down the Pacific Coast toward Mexico. We passed out of the Guemes Channel, down the Rosario Strait, and past Deception Pass. We know these waters well – where the current is strong, where the underwater rocks lie, there the tide rips are treacherous. It occurred to us that we were leaving behind the comfort of familiar waters. This made me think of Mark Twain.
As a young man, Mark Twain worked on river boats along the Mississippi, eventually earning his license as a Steamboat Pilot. This entailed learning every bend, bar, and port along the river. He later wrote:
“The face of the water, in time, became a wonderful book, a book that was a dead language to the uneducated passenger, but which told its mind to me without reserve, delivering its most cherished secrets as clearly as if it uttered them with a voice. And it was not a book to be read once and thrown aside, for it had a new story to tell every day. Throughout the long 1200 miles there was never a page that was void of interest, never one that you could leave unread and lost, never one that you would want to skip, thinking you could find higher enjoyment in some other thing. In truth, the passenger who could not read this book saw nothing but all manner of pretty pictures in it, painted by the sun and shaded by the clouds, where as to the trained eye, these were not pictures at all, but the grimmest and most dead earnest of reading matter.”