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The ferry ride of life...of love. (standard:non fiction, 1255 words)
Author: CyranoAdded: Aug 07 2008Views/Reads: 1822/862Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
I was never told about love as a kid...I never heard the words 'I love you'. I heard about beer and bread and hard times...

When not living in California, I walk the sward-covered ground that
skirts many of Scotland's tors, then down alongside its deep satanic 
lochs to wander, aimlessly, through the ruins of clan castles. I 
sprouted toward manhood in the fishing town of Tobermoray, on the 
northern tip of Mull, an island off the west coast of Scotland, 
skipping up and down the rainbow curve of the harbour. 

As a child my only real reference to America's existence was listening
to Mrs. Braebrook, a round faced, kindly teacher who wore her hair 
bundled on the top of her head, and her eyeglasses on the end of her 
nose.  She told a story how Columbus rediscovered the ‘New World', she 
said, after Norse sailors had ventured there and long gone. Columbus, 
however, halted his adventure on the ‘New World' shores, leaving it to 
Magellan to later have the honour of circumnavigating our global 
planet. Well, that's what Mrs. Braebrook said. She also said I 
shouldn't stare out the window so much. 

Adventure was everywhere, but the greatest adventure was running to
catch the school bus and taking the ride down the Sound of Mull on the 
half hour trip to Craignure, where I boarded the ferry, which sailed to 
Oban, on the mainland, for school. 

So, you see, it was natural that the sea was part of my every day
existence.  While other kids sat in the warmth of the ferry's canteen 
during those blustery winter morning journeys, with threatening rain 
clouds low over the waters, I stood on the bow, letting the sharp wind 
crisp my ears until they felt like ice packs on the side of my head. 
Hurting so much I entered the classroom crying with pain, tears 
streaming down my face. Mrs. Braebrook would shake her head, grab my 
hand and pull me down the corridor to the school's boiler room. ‘Read 
this,' she'd say, thrusting a book into my hand, ‘come back to class 
when you've thawed out.' I was a ridiculous kid. She said that, too. 

Weekends meant every minute of daylight was nspent on the harbour.  I
was going to be a fisherman, and I told my father so. He'd smile. ‘Your 
head's too much in the clouds, son.' He'd say.  I didn't properly 
understand what he meant, so at ten years of age I'd scrape barnacles 
off trawler hulls, make huge mugs of tea, and earn a few pennies. The 
men would ruffle my hair, poke fun at my tent-sized jumpers, those 
knitted by my mother, and threaten to hoist my long baggy shorts aloft. 
Whenever the trawlers were in, I was there. Each of these men was my 
‘father'. To a man each one contributed to my education. It might have 
been learning a certain kind of knot, perhaps how to sew a lobster pot, 
how to sort crabs, fillet a fish, but also, to a man, not one of them 
taught me about love. Life on the island was about beer and bread and 
hard times. 

Sure enough, these men taught me how to get through life. Not how to
love in life. When I left them I was well equipped to deal with 
everything but loss. I had learned their language, a harsh language, 
loose and harsh, a language built on nature's anger and not a little 
poverty, or so I thought. But each man was, in fact, wealthy in heart. 
It was the individual language of men competing with elements and 
reality. Fishermen will tell you there are only two ways of gaining 
riches, one is finding it in yourself over wealth, which is not a 
language in fishing circles, or increasing your possessions by 
decreasing someone else's. I grew up among people who, and this is 
true, did not concern themselves with wealth, but with riches. There is 
a difference. The richness of a life involving hard work, fierce manual 
labour, cannot be compared to a man who sold well on the stock market. 
Wealth may divide their lifestyles, but ‘richness of life' separates 
them as men. I was never a fisherman at heart. My father knew this. I 
had a softness that let me down, and an ache for romance that all my 
‘fathers' scoffed at, yet I love these men proudly and fiercely. 

When I left the safety of my surroundings, going into the world to find
the other side of reality, I found the majority of mankind considering 
cash and the ownership of property conducive to their own well-being. 
I'm not a fool, I understand this need for wealth, it is just another 
way for a man to enhance the quality of his life; perhaps so that he, 
too, can have time to enjoy his family and the ocean. Such things are 
vitally important. That said let me go on to say that I doubt its 
pre-eminence. Time, health, a large human interest, sympathy and 
compassion, these things, surely, are just as important to an 
individuals life over the exchange rate for gold, or the value of his 

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