Bonnie and Clyde prowled the high grass along the bank. I sat at the TV tray inches from the river and let my mind drift with the current. I waited and waited and then a mesmerizing commenced…toward boats of all things, toy boats. I thought that perhaps I would bring a toy boat to this river and play with it as a child might play, if a middle-aged man had a great notion to play with toy boats on an Oregon Coast river with no around except two old dogs. Yes, he does, or he instantly had one now!
It occurred to me that in my youth I never had a toy boat. I was always the Army/Marine-toy-kind-of-kid, tanks and trucks, half tracks and howitzers. Is there something inherently wrong with a child who never had a single toy boat? Only toy tanks? It also occurred to me that I had only one indelible memory of any boats in my youth: eating octopus from a sherry glass in a formal dining room aboard a cruise ship bound for Brazil that was transporting my family into missionary service for the Church of Christ.
I stared at the river and the rocks below the surface and imagined constructing a harbor for my boat, or better yet, a toy ship, perhaps even a fleet of toy ships! Why stop at a fleet? Why not a flotilla? Why not include an ark, yacht, battleship, cruiser, minesweeper, trawler, drug boat, Love Boat, freighter, Huck Finn raft, Coast Guard cutter, amphibious landing craft, corsair, barque, schooner, sampan, a canoe, yes, a canoe on the Lewis and Clark River, modeled after the canoe Lewis and Clark’s men ripped off from the Chinooks before they departed Fort Clatsop.
Clyde came over and nuzzled my pocket. Treat time goddammit! The spell was broken. I packed up the studio and we headed home. As I walked, I couldn’t stop thinking about toy boats. I knew I would begin my search for one soon, perhaps that very morning. They were out there, lost, forlorn, dry docked, languishing on dusty shelves of the thrift stores. I would find the boats and return them to the water to float again. It occurred to me that I was trying to do exactly the same thing for myself.
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