blog by Ken McAlpine
Welcome to our weekly blog about the joys of travel and life. For the two are one. Travel, like life, is about making the most of our moments, for we only have so many. With that in mind, another moment together. Thank you for coming along for the ride…
The Pursuit of Possibilities
Travel is about possibilities, and you don’t have to travel far to believe.
We stand at the dock edge, looking out at the still waters of Ventura Harbor. A soggy tatter of whole wheat bread floats just off our toes. The bread is skewered by a paper clip bent into a hook. The hook and string are tethered to a makeshift fishing pole.
Adults won’t root around in the kitchen and the backyard for just the right equipment. They won’t search meticulously for scotch tape, string and firm enough paper. But a five-year-old will. He will find a bamboo stick. He will cut, then tape, one by one, tiny paper eyelets along the length of the bamboo stick. He will carefully run the string through the eyelets, and, just as carefully, tie the paper clip to the end.
Then he will stand at the edge of the dock expectantly. He will decide that we will keep the first fish we catch in the bucket at our feet. Then we will catch a second fish, so it will have a friend. We’ll dump all the fish back into the water when we leave, so they can go home too.
A five-year-old will pay little attention to the passing time, or the empty bucket. He will wait for a nibble.
He will wait some more. He will wait while the Southern California sky purples, and the dock lights flick on.
Only then, he might say, “Maybe we should go,” but even as he says the words, his look is still hopeful, and no father in his right mind discourages hope.
“No,” his father says. “We should keep trying.”
A minute later, the five-year-old is crouched and peering into the water. He holds the fishing pole statue still.
“Dad,” he hisses.
Crouching beside him, his father sees nothing. The water is murky, and the falling night doesn’t help.
His father starts to speak, but a child can become the parent.
“Shhhhhh. Wait.” A small finger extends cautiously out over the water. “Here it comes again,” he says.
The bat ray soars just beneath the bread, the edges of its wings rippling like curtains in a breeze. It makes two more slow passes beneath our dissipating clump of bread before turning away.
“Wow,” someone whispers.
Twenty years later, I’m still not sure who.
Ken McAlpine has traveled the world as a writer, from the depths of Palau to the heights of the Andes, but no matter where he goes, he can’t wait to come home to Ventura. We hope his stories remind you of why you love the place you call home, and this gift called life. For more info, please go to www.kenmcalpine.com.