Monday, August 14, 2006

"Ring of Bright Water"


A long time ago, I read books about animals. Horses, dogs, ocelots. Sentimental novels like "Black Beauty." My father's books on trapping techniques. And a book about otters.
"Ring of Bright Water" was the story of a man and wild otters on the coast of Scotland. It's still around in book form, though of course a movie has been made - on a quick search I learned that there are follow-ups to the original, a trilogy of nature books.
So, this has what to do with sailing?
Sunday morning, I was sitting in the cockpit, watching mist rise off the water and working on a cup of coffee. I heard a splash behind me and turned, thinking it might be the snapping turtle I saw last week. It was an otter, sleek head and sinuous body gliding up to a neighboring empty dock and then under.
I watched for a long time, hoping it would re-emerge, but it was gone into the maze of 30-foot slips or perhaps back across the cove to the wild side where the heron roosts. I remembered the book, read and re-read, and while having no illusions about a cuddly relationship - I believe wild things are best left wild, since close contact with humans generally has bad results - I enjoyed the visit and look forward to more.
We sailed Saturday in a nice breeze, enjoying the ride. But part of the pleasure of being on the water is the companionship of creatures that are native there. The snapping turtle tearing at a dead catfish. The heron that roosts on a branch across the way and fishes every morning near the head of the cove, undisturbed by the gabble of ducks. Small creatures, too - a flotilla of tiny water striders skating off onto a water so wide and full of hazards.
Sometimes just being still, with the slap of waves against the hull, is enough. Posted by Picasa


Carol Peters said...

i guess i read that book the year it came out -- loved it -- still remember it with great happiness.

Anonymous said...

I read the book very early in the pisce when I was at high school the mid 60's and remeber it nwith great fondness. I have been trying to get hold of the book from my local library but without any luck. Any ideas?