I put the title of this post in quotation marks because those are not my words. They belong to Bland Simpson and can be found in in the seventh chapter of his wonderful, lyrical book "The Inner Islands". The entire quote is as follows..
Why would you ever leave? I wondered again and again, beguiled, hypnotized, drunk with love for this sand-filament of wind and water, this edge of everything.
Beautiful words, don't you think?
Simpson was talking about visiting the cupola atop the old Coast Guard Station on Portsmouth Island just across from Ocracoke Island. I have only seen Portsmouth Island from a distance, I have never visited the coast guard station. But the feeling Simpson expresses - that I know all too well. It reminded me of the last evening of a solo sail on Chesapeake Bay in the Fall of 2010. I was anchored in a cove at the north end of Smith Island. I did not want to leave. From the logbook....
"The bivy was all set up and it was probably time to go to bed. But instead I just stood there on the aft cockpit seat, resting my arms on the main boom. The breeze was warm and out of the southeast. The moon, nearly full, was rising to the east. And I could look out over Black Cove, past the marshes and see Tangier Sound and the lights of Crisfield in the distance. I stood there for the longest time - 30 minutes, maybe 40 or maybe an hour, I don't know. I just stood there and soaked it all in. It was almost time to go home, but I wanted to enjoy that last night on the water."
It was the end of a trip that I did not want to end. I remember watching the sky changing from light blue to dark blue and then purple approaching black. After a week on the water I rocked gently and comfortably with the rhythm of the boat. My lips tasted of salt, my skin burnt by the wind and the sun. Looking to the east I could see the ruffled waters of Tangier Sound, to the west was Chesapeake Bay. The island was to the south, above me were the stars. It felt like I was part of it all, or maybe just close enough to see it all.
"This edge of everything."