Friday, September 18, 2015

A-Boating I Shall Go

I awoke today (strange to say, since I do not sleep) with a fire in my chest.

Morning breaks on safe harbor.
All morning, I have paced the sandy strand along the lagoon that is the entire southeast section of my island. I say "southeast" though of course I have no orientation but the sun's track across the sky: I have arbitrarily selected a "north" for my own point of reference, and as there are none but God's beasts to quibble with me on this point, the democratic process was swift and entirely satisfactory. But up and down the banks I strode, scratching my chin where the skin flakes at the base of my beard. I made a point of breathing and appreciating the freshness of the local air, in hopes of blowing the cobwebs from my skull's interior. To my left spread an apron of sturdy tulips, before my stone fortification, and their flashing colors occasionally distracted me from my thoughts. I stared up into the sky, where flawlessly rectilinear clouds drifted at a uniform ceiling above the sea across a dome of deep azure. I paced the lagoon up and down, back and forth; the two wild pigs peeked at me from within my oak forest but did not approach.

I haven't mentioned this lagoon yet. (Lord save me, I nearly wrote "my lagoon". Such arrogance.) The ocean is deep without limit, as nearly as I may perceive, so the sandy shoal here is quite a relief. Sometimes an octopus may drift in and out; other times, skeletons or other fell beasts wander through it, their speed impeded, and I may pick them off at a safe distance with my bow, collecting what they drop with convenience. But I've been thinking, the shape of this lagoon should be ideal to secure a small boat, and the shallowness of this water could only facilitating disembarking.

The resounding question: why have I not thought of crafting a boat until now?

Logistics spring to mind, of course. If I don't know how long it will take to find another island, how should I know how much victuals to store? Lacking astrolabe or sextant, even a good spyglass, how should I have faith that my vessel follows true in any direction I select? What should I find out there in the merciless, indifferent ocean: a ravenous Leviathan, or a sudden and inexorable end to the world? How can I prepare for either of these outcomes?

Octopodes are no joke, sir.
Nevertheless, I have punched a tree into bits (it amuses me to abstain from tools, once in a while) and fashioned a worthy sea-faring vessel. It is not unlike the one I lived in briefly, though smaller. It will never sink unless I run it into an object at velocity—I found this out the hard way and have built a few others to replace it. Two have shattered upon collision with the bank of my island; one fell to pieces when I thought to ram an octopus out of the way. The result of that? The components of my boat swiftly sank to the blackest depths; the octopus turned and drifted away, entirely unaffected; and I was left frantically treading in full dress, only just in sight of my ersatz home. I survived that dire affair and note that octopodes are at once docile, unpredictable and nigh-indestructible.

Tonight, however, I have committed to a course of action. Having meditated all day and at considerable length upon remaining versus journeying into the unknown, I have decided to quit this island for the time being and sail, so far as my faculty permits, in one direction until I learn something new. That may be that this world is flat and finite; it may be that larger, hungrier creatures were waiting for my impertinence; it may be that an island, several islands, or perhaps a continent await me beyond the horizon. None of this may I ascertain while remaining planted, like so much wheat, on the familiar and insular shores. And so, out of desperation for something new, anything new, I have loaded up my pack with a large stack of roast mutton, a considerable quantity of lumber and polished granite, and such implements requisite for building, farming and self-defense. This should prepare me for most contingencies, I think: I can sail in a direction and count my days in mutton, heading back when half my supply is exhausted.

Or I can start anew in any land I find. The wood and stone will go far toward a defensible shelter (though prior to this I've needed nothing more than a mean tent), and it is my hope that arable tract may be had by which to raise a sustaining crop of wheat. Failing that, I can while away weeks fishing, I'm sure, as long as the pole holds out.

I suppose it's too much to hope that the New World should have tea.

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