Blue is my favorite color. When I was about 8 years old, our family of five set off for a week of sailing on Puget Sound in a 20′ sailboat. It was my first sailing experience and I have many clear memories of that trip; Dad getting hit by the boom and laughingly saying “Now I know why they call it the boom!”, waking up in Gig Harbor and sitting on the bow watching a silent foggy sunrise, climbing into my sister’s bunk when I was scared, jumping off the boat into the waves with my brother, and hearing Mom saying “here comes the blue line”. I didn’t understand what she meant until one day we were sitting on the beach in front of the house my great-grandfather built at Three Tree Point and Mom said; “The blue line is coming, it’s time to go”. So we packed up and rowed out to the sailboat, and sure enough, the wind arrived as the blue line crossed our bow. We sailed close hauled and heeling all the way to Blake Island; Mom with a big grin while at the tiller and the rest of us hanging on for dear life.
The blue line. It’s that line on the water that indicates where the wind begins. Sometimes it’s subtle with gentle ripples slowly changing the color of the sea, and sometimes it’s a dark threatening blue with white foaming waves racing toward you at such a speed that you know you’d better get prepared. That’s when sailing into the blue is like driving down a narrow road at night without your headlights on, it’s a challenge, it’s facing something bigger than yourself.
I avoided high school as much as possible, spending most of my days skiing or lying on the floor of the apartment Mom and I shared, listening to CSN&Y, Bob and Joan, James and Carole, or the peaceful easy feeling of the Eagles. My particular brick bastion of learning was Roosevelt High School, where my Mom and her sisters attended, belonging to social clubs and holding student body offices. Me, not so much. I do remember two teachers who actually challenged me though. White haired Mr. Stone with his dry wit brought history alive, and Mrs. Peterson, who handed out unique creative writing assignments that I remember to this day. One such task was to “describe your favorite color”.
So Mrs. Peterson, today is brought to you by the color blue.
Sometimes blue is cold, like layers in glacier ice. The colorless pure water of snowfall that is crushed under its own weight over thousands of years, creates a blue as cold and pure as to take your breath away. It’s smooth, like a polished marble statue or a glassy sea, and it’s solid like obsidian or buffed steel.
When we sailed through the icebergs to the glacier in Alaska we were amazed at the many colors of blue hiding in the floating ice. Transparent or opaque, all were layered in blue. It felt extravagant to pick up a floating bergie bit for our afternoon cocktail, pouring 10-year old scotch over 10,000-year old ice.
In the Southern latitudes, blue is warm. When sailing in deep water the shafts of hot sunlight disappear into the blue depths, like the dark sky when stars first appear. It reminds me of stained fingers from picking warm summer ripened blueberries.
When paddling across water so clear that you can see the ripples in the sand 30′ below your kayak, the blues are constantly changing. As you come closer to shore you start to see lighter hues, with deeper shadows hidden among the rocks or in the puff of sand left by a startled sting ray scooting across the bottom. The sunlight shimmering off the wrinkles in the waves creates white patterns of light amidst the pale blue of the shallows. Blue is the color of water, which has no color. It’s the color of the wind. It’s a feeling, a perception, it’s my favorite.
Sail to blue. It’s our mantra. It means sailing toward the horizon, sailing to unknown destinations, sailing to sunshine and deep seas. Wait for the blue line – it will be here soon!