And now let us welcome the new year, full of things that never were.
–Rainer Maria Rilke
In German, the ancient knot is called, palstek. In Kiswahili, the word is mstari wa matumbo. Polish call the loop that holds a sail, bulina. The English, Spanish, Finnish and French call that rope a bowline.
In February, 2007, frigid winds blasted over the ice fields that buried the Allegheny River. As I hiked across Pittsburgh’s Seventh Street Bridge, a loud and fierce roar from below frightened me. Then a tiny boat zipped from the shadows and zoomed toward the Ohio that feeds the Mississippi, which flows into the Gulf of Mexico then the Atlantic Ocean and around the world.
Robert Krebs of City of Pittsburgh River Rescue told me what I saw was the River Rescue airboat. He said that it comes out in winter to rescue people by riding on top of the ice. Sailing above the ice. No bowlines. Marvelous!
As a new year begins and ‘things that never were’ await, the photograph I snapped of the flying boat reminds me of Mark Twain’s words,
Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
Photograph © 2007, 2020 by Sandra Gould Ford. Purchase prints here.
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