We missed the boat quite literally but not metaphorically having thereafter shifted to silver linings: Not only a nice consolation prize, but ending up first for the next sailing aboard the Tacoma felt like an omen of sorts getting the year started off on the right foot. The boys and I speculated as to whether or not our emergency brake would hold fast in the unlikely event the ferryboat captain were to faint from the mid-afternoon munchies but a mootish point because front-row seat on the bow notwithstanding we don’t usually sit in the car on the ferry unless it’s one of those groggy, late nights on the way home. Still humming his defiantly cheery personal anthem of late (circa 2007 Jack White meets Johnny Cash), Oliver Fern split off with his mother to satisfy a hankering for a juicy hot dog (discernment is in the taste buds of the beholder when it comes to ferry food) from the galley while Adam and I did as many laps as possible on the sun deck but my feet started hurting when we were even with the West Point Lighthouse (it seems to stick out all the way to Bainbridge Island) and the brilliant afternoon sunshine shimmered painfully from downtown skyscrapers to Elliott Bay to my eyes so I said see-ya-later-alleygator and went down to the car deck. Speaking of which, we almost had to drive away from Colman Dock without Adam: He came running (and gasping for breath) to announce he’d managed ten laps.
As you could imagine, the boys’ favorite part of the weekend was sledding except for the time Oliver Fern got caterwhomped by some big kids after flying out of his inner tube on icy snow. The path to Hurricane Hill was tempting but overly festive for my liking so while the boys zipped and whooshed downhill 257 times, I headed in the opposite direction, timidly offering right-of-way to skiers, snowboarders and other shredders until establishing due course above the terminus of the bunny lift and trending toward Mount Angeles on crusty snow via familiar, lonely ridges until laughter and delight of children and adults alike faded to snowy silence and peachy afternoon glow across distant salt water. Time stood still before I realized quite a bit of it had actually passed and although the boys and their mother are used to me being gone too long, I was a tad nervous about the backcountry ranger on the opposite end of the long ridge from me (he was approximately the size of this uppercase letter B). Engaged in lonesome retreat though he was, it became clearer my own progress was being monitored and having already in provisional self-defense pegged him for the nannyish sort, I noticed he was having trouble with purchase up a steep slope in his fancy cleated snowshoes and upon closer inspection with some relief ascertained he was the stout but teddy bearish sort but that only made me nervouser the nearer we drew together because I could’ve sworn he was going to trip over his own snowshoes at any moment and the pistol in his holster was going to shoot me by accident because he absentmindedly forgot the safety having oiled it up on his dining room table in Sequim while listening to the radio so after exchanging big guy pleasantries (the nicest fellow, as I suspected) about the transcendental beauties of wintertime and such stuff, I sped up and created some distance between us. On the other hand, later back at the ranch he delivered a rousing reproach to a band of ne’er-do-well Johnny-come-lately-frolickers (nope, the wintertime curfew was closing in and everyone needed to head home to their fireplaces so the snowplows could be readied for the next morning).
Adam and I went for a nighttime walk from the beach house to the mouth of the Elwha. It was threatening to rain but very low, scudding clouds swirled clockwise like an aperture to behold the moon, larger than life. It was a sublime scene, we felt like characters in a snow globe and commenced to lose feeling in our hands as we knelt down to splash the icy water of the river where it mixes with the sea and after a perusal of interesting debris on the gravelly finger of the river’s west bank (here today, twenty feet over there tomorrow) that reaches into the Strait, the moon was cloaked once again and dusk descended very suddenly and we easily imagined the shapes of scattered driftwood here and there to be otters and seals. We revisited the river a handful of times the next couple of days, no moons but a couple of eagles and five curious seals on New Year’s morning. The beach house sat low across the road from a Native cemetery as well as a troublesome slide area high above. One night when I had trouble falling asleep I couldn’t stop imagining a tsunami carrying the boys terrifyingly adrift in the middle of the night while we cried for each other and I startled awake and it was Adam wanting to take a morning stroll to the Elwha for seeing if we could find interesting things washed up during the night such as colorful bobbers or sticks shaped like Han Solo’s blaster and I was starkly reminded nature is neither ruthless nor benevolent.