Town’s End

Written By:  Nicholas Knab

When the days are bright or dreary, I look upon the bay.

    Deep blue, green or grey, the waters lap and coalesce like a great cloth, rumpled by a snoring child’s stirring. The boats bob up and down with the waves, much like seagulls.

    Like their flight, sails can be seen gliding gracefully through unseen courses, currents invisible. There is no struggle against or to control. Only the gliding upon what is, and using it. As the current flows through sky and sea. It flow through me as well. With every breath, salt upon my tongue, with every exhale, the wind’s whine becomes louder.  

    The ambient noise of the village behind me doesn’t interfere, it only adds to the fact that it is part of the world of man. Part of the villages legacy of sea-salt and sand.

    Neon signs, chandelier lights, revving of engines new and old. The clink of cutlery or the clack of heels. It becomes like a cloud of noise that drifts into the currents’ of the bay. Swept up into the sky to join the multitudes of clouds. Each carried by an unseen undertow. Each carrying homebound sights and sounds.

    And yet, in the sky, all are exposed to such wonderful colors! Oranges of passion. Dull and distant yellows. Blue hues of the lightest of sapphires. Shades, shadows and illumination are cast like players in some grand portrayal of heaven. A master’s brush could never be so precise and vivid on canvas as this.

    The crowds emerge from wherever they were. Whether at home, cleaning the house for dinner guests, at the store, searching for some slight distraction from the quietness, or perhaps eating at some restaurant with prices higher than the tower of babel.

    The polished wood, the tacky beach decor, chic dresses hung on almost twig-like mannequins. Markers of pollution amongst whatever respect one could have for the history of the town. Like a creeping algae bloom, tides are turning red.

    One can see it walking if they look. It takes many forms. It is in the well ironed suits of the men and the crisp flow of the dresses on women. Their shawls, bags and sunglasses. Shining like sickly lights. It lacks the natural sheen of old whale oil that coats the bones of Sag Harbor. The weather worn bricks, the grandeur of a library with its columns and history, the houses of ghosts and monuments to a time before the cleanliness. Before it was scrubbed at veraciously by those that think age only brings dullness and filth.

    Yet the bay remains. They old churches remain. The whaling museum remains. The library remains. And with it they carry memories and lessons. Things that people value more than pearls or gold. Proud in their stature. Alive, yet ancient.

    The culture that we live in is a brackish mixture of the past being both built upon and forgotten by the people of today. The fresh, fluidity and speed set against thick timbers and whale bones. Instead of whaling ships, yachts proudly move upon the bay.

    Their large white bulk lacks the creaking timber and rope. The salt of sweat and sea that gave the town whale oil, its life blood. Moving through and burning at its heart to keep the people alive.

   Change comes, however hard it is to accept. The tides change just as easily as history. They flow in and out with the padding of children’s feet and seagull claws. Washing. Baptizing the shore continually with new names and features. The beach is the face of this place. Pebbles, shells and driftwood are its adornments. Whilst the water becomes the eye. Deeper than the faceted stones of a jeweler with untold colors and hues moving in and out with the northern light. Window and mirror of the soul.

      As the sun baked stones of the shore could tell, the wind is as much a part of the sea as the water. It is the hand that smooths and chops the shoulders of the waters. It rips the sand across their faces and scatters it across the grass. Movement like a symphony with silence like a psalm. Quietly it will dance and sing on the softest of leaves and grass.

    It carries the sailboats through the water. The soul of a sailor is everywhere, sweeping about, keeping the boat alive and moving. The channels and currents, blood vessels beneath the surface.

    I watch this grand metabolism that is the bay. Sailboats weave between the buoys like a thread through a needle’s eye. Smooth and precise. Waves lap onto the wharves’ timber. Wind blown and fresh with the sea like Calypso’s sighs.

    The setting sun against draped with the distant clouds, all above the farthest horizon give a good perspective at town’s end.