Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
--Wm. Shakespeare, The Tempest
In my parents' backyard are many treasures.
What you see in that photo are two pieces of my childhood, boats that my father used to take us out onto the water in. I don't go out with him any more; the last time he took me out on the water, my period started. We don't talk about that day, and I've only gone fishing with him--from a creek bank, just in case--once more since then.
These old boats, long retired, watch him tow out their younger counterpart daily, then listen to the tales that young upstart must have to tell about their adventures in the local bay. They wait for the rain to finally flood out this little plot of land so that they can feel the water tickling their hard and dry underbellies again. They've been waiting for a long time.
When I visit now, I usually shake my head and tsktsktsk at my father's collection of old and unusable items--cars, vans, boats, riding lawn mowers--but my childhood memories of each one of these items can't quite allow me to condemn him for holding onto them.
On our last visit, my father took my husband out for a Saturday fishing trip. When they'd returned, I ventured out to take some photos of the day's catch--
a mess of catfish in a dirty old chest. How different they looked the following weekend, when they became a party for our friends.
But I digress.
When I was done taking pictures of fish, I wandered over to my father's wood shop, where he dries wood he's salvaged from fallen oak and pecan trees, then fashions them into beautiful and functional pieces of furniture. For years I have commiserated with my mother over the decaying boats in the yard, struggling to reconcile my father's wood artistry with his unfortunate choice of lawn ornamentation. On this day, though, I took a closer look at the boats and saw that they've been sitting for so long their bellies have become fertile beds for trees to take root.
I'm ashamed that it took me so long to realize what had happened; I'm rarely in their backyard these days, preferring to spend most of my visiting time indoors or out visiting relatives. It's amazing what you can see when you open your eyes to your surroundings.
Trees growing in a boat.
Perhaps I'm being overly generous to say this, but while to outside eyes the boats may be junk, I see them now as working members of the family community, and, in the right slant of light, as lessons about how over time, if we're open to it, we can allow ourselves to be transformed into something rich and strange.
This post was written in response to the Week 27 prompt at therealljidol. Special thanks to joeymichaels for reminding me of how much I love The Tempest. Thank you for reading.