Maine summers were hot and sticky. Miserable and tired of playing alone, Tyler complained to his mother that everyone, except him, was at camp.
“You should go visit Grandma,” said his mom.
“Mom, I hate going there. Her house smells. It’s boring.”
Tyler ran out the door and hiked through the woods toward the ocean. When he reached the rocky coastline, the relief of cool air soared over the bluff. He made his way north among the rocks, watching the seagulls and inhaling the salt spray from the pounding waves. Coming to a quiet inlet, he climbed down the bluff to sea level. Foundered on rock and mud was an old sailing vessel. Tyler scrambled along the shoreline for a closer look.
In the low tide, a couple of broken lobster traps lurked in the mud. Splintered wood floated in the murky water. A big hole was cut into her side, the remains of a dock lingered. A tree grew on her foredeck.
Tyler saw her, a beautiful clipper, sails unfurled, her hull racing across open sea. He saw himself, Captain Ty, legs astride on the bridge, sailing home with his merchant crew. A whale spouted nearby, but he was no whaler. He easily outran a distant pirate ship, his speed no match for them. Her cargo was precious, and he sailed on, racing time and wind. Every great sea captain must have a parrot on his shoulder, and he taught his to say, “Aye, Aye Captain Ty!” The sails tight in the wind, she skimmed the waves on wings.
His imaginary voyage took him late into the afternoon. With the incoming tide he realized he must hurry home. He would be in trouble for not going to Grandma’s.
“Tyler,” said his mom, “Did I ask you to go to Grandma’s?”
“But I don’t like to go there. It is too hot to sit and watch her doze.”
“She needs you, Ty. It means a lot to have you visit. You give her something to think about. Tomorrow, I want you to spend the morning there and help her around the house. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Mom,” Tyler grumbled.
The next day, Tyler walked slowly to his grandma’s. He swept the porch, picked strawberries and helped her clean. Tyler told her about the ship. His voice, as he talked, filled the stillness. When he paused, he noticed she was smiling. He asked, “What’s funny?”
“Ty, did you know your grandpa sailed? He had a little schooner. He loved the sea, and he loved talking about sailing, just like you are right now. You remind me of him.”
“Really, Grandma? How far south did he sail? Was he ever caught in a storm? Did you sail with him?” Grandma patiently answered his questions until the morning ebbed into the afternoon. He was from a family of sailors. He hadn’t known. No wonder he loved it. The wind was in his heart and soul.