Show us your summer

That’s it, then, eh? Summer’s over on Monday and then we wait for the sun to come back in this direction.

We will, again, go gently into the good night of the dark months, shielded only by our memories of summer. So let’s see and hear about yours.

This is our old pal Brent Olson from beautiful Clinton, Minn. It would be fair to say he’s chasing his latest passion — sailing — although in this depiction his passion is chasing him, if a bit reluctantly.

Here’s his story, which is provided on his Independently Speaking Facebook page, which you should be following. He graciously gave his approval for its republication here.

No leeches. That’s a plus.

People are asking for an explanation regarding a photo that appears to show me slogging through a swamp towing a sailboat.

The explanation is simple. Sunday evening, I was slogging through a swamp, towing a sailboat.

It’s because I don’t play golf.

Let me explain.

A few years ago, I got an email from my wife that read, “I think I may have bought you a boat.”

You see, I’ve always wanted to learn to fly and build an airplane. But the past five decades I’ve been busy making a living and now I’m almost 64, I have three years of projects left to do, and that’s if none of my children buy any more old houses in disrepair. So, the airplane plan has flown away, and along with it went what I felt was my last chance to acquire a hobby. But then the email from my wife.

It’s a tiny, thirty-year-old catamaran that is the perfect vessel for navigating what used to be a duck slough, but due to climate change is now a private lake six feet deep that starts at the edge of our lawn.

I don’t know anything about sailing and, apparently, the Viking blood surging through my veins doesn’t help as much as I would wish. It doesn’t help that the boat was really cheap because it was a little broken. The previous owner’s kids would wait until the wind was in the right direction, sail to the middle of the lake, drop the sail, work on their tans, and then phone for a tow when they were ready to come home.

No Viking blood in their veins…not if they thought a tan was a possibility.

Clearly, proper boat maintenance was not a priority. I keep finding little boat quirks that, in my ignorance, I hadn’t realized were flaws.

Since I don’t have anyone to fetch me if I get stranded downwind, I’ve been trying to learn how to sail.

“Why not have someone teach you?” some might say.

I might answer, “Why take classes when there’s YouTube.”

In addition to willful ignorance, the other problem with my sailing skills is that I’m not very good at hobbies. Instead of relentlessly practicing, I just say every couple of weeks, “Should we try sailing?” If I get a “yes,” we go out on the slough and float around with varying levels of success.

Last Sunday was one of those days. Things went okay until the rudder fell apart.

For those of you who don’t know anything about sailboats, catamarans are those boats with two hulls AND two rudders. You can steer with one rudder if the other one is completely missing. If you’re steering with one rudder and the other is aimlessly flopping about, guidance is a little tricky. We keep a canoe paddle on board as an alternative form of locomotion, but it was about that time that we lost it.

Don’t ask.

We kept working our way back to our home port, gradually getting closer. The little dog loves to sail and often perches out on the prow, like an inexplicably hairy Kate Winslet. She was along on this trip, but for some reason lost confidence in my skills. As soon as we got close to shore, she bailed out.

Sadly, she leaped out near a bed of cattails which towered about six feet above the water. She’s only about three inches above the water when she swims, so she was soon hopelessly lost, treading water in desperate circles. Someone needed to rescue her.

In all honesty, it was a short list of possible rescuers, made shorter by the need for the rescuer to be taller than the water was deep.

Well, the water was about four feet deep, and the mud added another foot or so of squishiness. I lost one shoe with my second step. Luckily, I lost the other about three steps further on, restoring my balance.

I set the soggy little dog back aboard ship. We were about a hundred yards from home, downwind, and trapped in a mat of seaweed. I’d had almost enough fun for one Sunday evening, so I grabbed the anchor rope and trudged home. As hobbies go, not perfect. But at least I hadn’t missed a three-foot putt.

And no leeches. That’s a plus.

Copyright 2018 Brent Olson

Alright, let’s see and hear yours. Please post your pictures and stories in the comments section below.

Don’t be intimidated if you don’t write prose in the manner of Brent. Nobody does.