The sea plays a big part for Alison Alexandra in my manuscript There Was A Time, Oh Pilgrim, When The Stones Were Not So Smooth. This is at the beginning of a night that is going to last a long time.
There seems to be a touch of mist coming over the ocean as Alison Alexandra looks from the windows of her prow of a ship house on the top of her cliff. Well, she calls it her cliff and no one – yet – has said ‘nay’. But then, she thinks of it as her ocean, so what is someone going to do with that?
She turns the lights out in her prow of a ship room and settles into her comfortable winged chair. The sun is in its last minute of setting and Alison Alexandra concentrates on the positions of the ships settling in for the night. There are always ships that have no space for a berth until the next day. One or two always seem to have to wait until the day after that.
The vagaries of shipping and commerce, and the whims of an erratic sea, can only be predicted with moderate success. The tides and the winds and the atmospheric pressures high and low make merry over and under the endless horizons. They whirl and they twirl and they scud and skip with gay abandon. ‘Catch them and predict them?’ – well, Alison Alexandra knows better than that.
As it is, her sea eye – well-honed after these many years of coastal watching – is certain the touch of mist that kisses the top of the waves in a most flirtatious manner is deciding whether or not to settle in for the night and become mistress to sea and ships and those swabbies who – oh, so quickly – will be told that the watch must be doubled.
No matter that they are within sight of shore and already have their imaginations stirred by what will be offered at fine establishments such as The Tugboat Wharf And Seafood Lounge with its All You Can Eat Beef Buffet and waitresses who are never going to give them the attention they crave but will still be a damn good source to stroke the imagination and then they can hit the streets and hope to find some pliable bodies with whom to hit the sheets if only by the hour.
Sailors from ten or more countries were in Halifax a few years ago, to participate in a fleet review for the Canadian Navy’s 100th Anniversary. HM Queen Elizabeth took the review from a Frigate plying the harbour.
As I walked myself up the hill from the harbor, I fell into step behind a couple. They were in their late teens or early twenties. As we ascended, a Military bus descended. Because this happened in real-time, I can not be certain of what exactly occurred, though the gist is certainly true.
The young lady shouted something at the bus. It, in truth, did not sound derogatory but, shall we say, encouraging. When the incident was over, I noted she wore a T-shirt which proclaimed, over her ample bosom, NAVY. It is possible this is what she shouted. It is also possible she shouted BABY. There was an “AY” at the end of the word. And – yes – although this is Canada, she did not just shout “EH?”
As the bus passed me, and thus was nearly past the couple, an American sailor in his whites put his head out a window and shouted “I’ll be your Daddy!” The bus was not moving quickly, and the male of the couple in front of me took umbrage. He started toward the bus.
“What did you say?”
The sailor was still looking from the window. There was a lot of laughter from the rest of the bus. The male stepped from the sidewalk and started toward the bus.
The ample female in her NAVY T-shirt grabbed his hand and pulled him back.
I thought this a wise decision.
We all continued on our way.