Through all my years of living in Manhattan, it always amazed me how the seasons were dictated by holiday weekends. Memorial Day marked the beginning of summer, and once Labor Day rolled around, the shorts and sandals were put away regardless of weather, lest you be mistaken for a tourist. It was back to “serious casual” clothing in the Financial District. No more weekend trips to the Hamptons. No more LIRR to Jones Beach for a concert. Nope. Even though September offers some of the best weather New York has to offer, come the Tuesday after Labor Day, summer was officially in the can for another year.
It seems the seasons in Port Townsend are marked by the Wooden Boat Festival. Summer hung around throughout the festival, with everyone in shorts and tee shirts. But ironically, I notice the first twinge of yellow and red in the trees overhead on the last day of the festival. There is a briskness to the air and a businesslike attitude from the shopkeepers. Instead of cheers coming from the regatta as the small boats round the mark in the Sound, they are coming from the opposite side of town now, the nearby High School football stadium where the “mighty Redhawks” muscle through the misting rain.
Fall is always the best time of year for sailing. Mornings are still and quiet while the sea breeze begins building in the early afternoon, making for perfect steady winds. Early mornings have been my absolute favorite part of the Wooden Boat Festival too, as I wake up at first light, grab my camera and go. The skies have been filled with tufts of cotton candy pink clouds, and the water in the marina is glassy. Nothing can be heard but the gulls and a few faint footsteps of fellow photography enthusiasts tiptoeing down the docks.
I wake up Monday morning after the three day, non-stop extravaganza feeling like I am the last to leave the party. Vendors are busy breaking down their tents around me. Boat trailers are in line to hitch up. Kayaks are secured on racks, two by two. Their 4-night package deal now over, a steady stream of RVers are exiting the Point Hudson Marina. Even the “Wee Nip Saloon” is rolling out of town on wheels back to her storage facility to await the next festival.
Seeing the activity wind down and knowing the one thing I have been looking forward to all summer has now officially passed taking summer with it leaves me with a lump in my throat. I feel that queasy sensation that I always get when it’s time to leave some place I love. But I’m not leaving. Or am I? I vacillate between telling myself “It’s okay, you don’t have to leave” to “It’s okay, you can leave if you want to. You’ll only lose one night payment.” I feel the weight of indecision sitting on my chest.
But I tell myself it’s okay. I am just feeling the effects of the energy shift as boats, RVs, vendor tents, and happy people flow out of the marina creating a vortex leaving the marina like a giant a drain plug. I am just feeling the magnetic pull of being sucked into their wake. I wander around the marina singing Jackson Browne’s “Oh won’t you staaaayyy…just a little bit longer?” But even though it feels like everyone else is leaving, I came with the intention to stay longer, which is exactly what I plan to do…
Meanwhile, here are a few of my favorite “lines” from Jackson Browne’s “The Load Out/Stay”…
Now the seats they’re all empty
Let the roadies take the stage
Pack it up and tear it down
They’re the first to come and last to leave
Working for that minimum wage
They’ll set it up in another town
Tonight the people were so fine
They waited there in line
And when they got up on their feet they made the show
And that was sweet…
But I can hear the sound
Of slamming doors and folding chairs
And that’s a sound they’ll never know
People stay just a little bit longer
We want to play, just a little bit longer
Now the promoter don’t mind
And the union don’t mind
If we take a little time
And we leave it all behind and sing
One more song…
Oh, won’t you stay…