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Sirens are not just for Sundays. Coney Island features not only a mermaid parade but also a Siren Festival.

Stealth while out canoeing in the north woods might reveal just about any type of siren above or . . .


At a party recently, someone who knows about the blog asked me, “What is it with you and boats, ships, water?” I just said, “What do you mean?” since I suspect I had no answer that could have satisfied him. It reminded me of . . . “If you gotta ask, you won’t understand . . . .” But I did appreciate being asked a question that’s essential to try to answer. I could try the facile responses like “the sirens, mystery, the economy, adventure, the different perspective. . .” in one direction or “I don’t know . . . .” Or other paths like asking such counter-questions as “What is it with traveling, enjoying good company, or seeing a beloved one naked? What is it about hearing your favorite music, watching the sunrise, savoring your preferred soup, or seeing your child smile?” All unanswerable, none discernible by logic.

And maybe it’s not about the the boats anyhow, but rather about the water and the interaction when we or others we see move in it or upon it by whatever contrivance. What is it about WATER itself, that stuff we can live only a short time without, that almost drowned me once, that makes up at least half of my body weight, and that’s used in ceremonies of different religions? Why is it that when I’m trying to figure something out, I either go swimming or–more often–take a shower–and the answer emerges. What is it with water, which, like sirens, can inspire daily?

That’s what it is about the boats. Too bad I couldn’t come up with all that when he asked me. Where was Kenneth Grahame when I needed him to jump off the shelf and holler “There is nothing— absolutely nothing— half so much worth doing as simply messing about in ‘wessels’.”

Photos and sentiments, WVD.

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May 2008