I stopped by the old Captain’s house at least once a week. I knew that he and his wife could use a little help around their plac
Both of them were on in years; happy folks, quick to smile and they always had a friendly word to share. When the captain wasn’t in, I knew where he was. I didn’t need to ask. I’d just point… and his wife would nod her head.
Seagull jetty; all the locals know that the seagulls used the location as their personal out house. The jetty’s built with giant pieces of granite rock and it reaches out at least a hundred yards into the ocean. The captain said that his favorite place to sit is on the outermost rock. He’d plunk himself down there for hours sometimes; all by himself and the gulls.
I asked him once, over coffee at the café, why he sat way out there on the last rock. He said, “Jess thinkin’.”
“What do you think about?”
He adjusted his cap, looked at me with sharp blue eyes and said: “Ted boy, I’ve made a bunch of decisions in my life. A whole lot of ’em I made on the spur of the moment; knee-jerk you might say. Those, I regret. It took me a long time to realize that when you gotta make your mind up about something, you need to find a quiet place and think about it.”
The waitress refilled his cup with black coffee; he slouched back in his chair and took a long, loud sip. “Seagull jetty is a good place for me to sit; just me, the wind, the water, and the gulls yakking about who knows what. I sit there and think about stuff. I don’t mind the gull shit dropping around me. I like it there. The very last rock is nice, especially when the sun shines. I enjoy listening to the belly sounds of the sea. Lord it’s peaceful out there.”
The captain looked me square in the face, “Whenever you have something that’s important, and you need to get it straight in your head, find a quiet place to sit and jess think. Sometimes it takes a while to decide what’s best. It’s helpful to go somewhere, all alone, and make up your mind. That ‘ol jetty is my place, that’s where I go.”
The captain’s wife passed away four months after our discussion. He joined her two months later. Their cottage, with its clam shell walkway, just doesn’t look right anymore.
Seagull jetty still juts into the ocean and nobody dares climb out to the very tip of it. The gulls soar higher now, and go quiet when they pass above the outermost rock. There’s a clean, smooth place there…where the captain always sat, jess’ thinkin’.
How often we, as writers, pay no mind to what’s happening around us. Sure, we can write about our vacation, and pay no attention to the really interesting stuff that took place before we left. Yeah, who cares what happened when we got ready to fo home? One of us may never be the same after this trip, but who cares?
We, as writers should care.
Life has a habit of slipping by fast, and what generally goes unnoticed is screamingly good fodder for our books.
A long time ago, I had a chance to get the autograph of a very famous person, and nearly let it pass by. However, I remembered that opportunity while writing Fiammetta’s Triumph, and I’ll share a little of it with you.
“…We scurried to the ocean side of the stage (I’d seen a side door there and figured it was for either performers or stage hands), hurried up four steps, and opened the door. We found ourselves backstage, in the wings, just as Louis Armstrong and his band were returning for an encore.
“Collette and I edged to one side and tried to make ourselves invisible. Mr. Armstrong told the audience that he and the band would do one final piece, and then he had to go.
“Everybody in the ballroom inched up close to the stage. The entire building went churchquiet. And Louis Armstrong and his band began to play ‘What a Wonderful World.’
“And when during his song, he glanced to his left and saw Collette in the wings, and me with a program and pen in my hand, he winked and kept singing. When his song neared the final stanza, he turned in our direction, and I swear he sang these words to us:
…I see skies of blue,
And clouds of white.
The bright blessed day,
The dark sacred night.
And I think to myself,
What a wonderful world….
“Mr. Armstrong’s voice moved our world that night. Everyone present listened to the music and lyrics. However, it was the way Mr. Armstrong sang that highlighted the sincerity of his words….”
And that’s all there is to it. When we search the attic of our minds for these little gems of minutiae, we resurrect and give them new life…set them free to be read over and again, forever.