Thursday, September 15, 2005

Raft to Duwamish

My journey so far has been an education in methods of travel. First, I have enjoyed the company of Moonbeam, a very special donkey who bore me and my luggage safely through some of the wildest terrain, and who, with her flying ability, out of reach of the masked bandits who tried to waylay us along the trail. Then there was Black, as steady a mount as could be found anywhere in Horsedom. He reminded me of another Black who, with his partner Captain, hauled the coal wagon of my childhood.

And now, on my way to Duwamish, I board a walk-on ferry which is nothing more than a raft pulled by a cable from one river bank to the other. I was the only passenger but wished there were others. I'd been alone for a while now and could use a chat.

The Ferry Mistress is quite a character, dressed as she is in overalls and Wellington boots with dirty gray hair bundled into an untidy bun on top of her head. The pipe she smokes is so much part of her weathered features that I can't imagine her being without it. "Hurry it up, now, woman," she says in a voice that is more screech than speech. "We can't wait all day fer the likes o' you."

I drop some coppers into her hand and notice the weather worn veins and leathery skin. I wish I had time to listen to her story, if she would be willing to share it with the likes of me. I doubted she would, so I walk to the front of the raft and drop my rucksack and bundle onto the deck, such as it is. Then I sit, my back propped against the rickety rail.

"Mind it don't give way on you," the ferry woman screeches. "I can't stop in mid stream to pull you outa the water."

"Understood," I say with a smile as I hump my butt away from the edge.

The Ferry Mistress released the rope that had anchored the primitive ferry to the bank, keeping it stable and unmoving in the water. Once cut loose, the raft was propelled downstream by the swift current. Slowly, by cranking on the cable winch, my non-communicative ferry mistress, brought the raft back in line with the opposite bank. It was a slow process with the raft fighting the cable all the way. Where, I wondered, will we end up if the cable breaks?

Finally, we reached the other side. I shouldered my rucksack and picked up my bundle.
"Thank you," I say to the ferry woman; captain of her ship, admiral of her fleet of one antique vessel.

"Begone with you," she screeches. "You think you be my only passenger?"

I look toward the opposite bank. There is no one there waiting for this ferry of note.

"G'bye then," I say, and turn to face in the shimmering distance, Duwamish.

©September 15, 2005


At 4:59 PM, Blogger Fran said...

I loved your ferry woman Vi. One of the women was so kind when she brought me back from the Isle of Ancestors to the Isle of the Great White Owl. My lady wore red. The Secretary

At 7:54 PM, Blogger Fran said...

I had to draw another ferry woman. She is posted at the Donkey site. Loved the description. Fran

At 2:42 AM, Blogger Imogen Crest said...

Vivid and real, Vi. The character of the ferry woman would be amazing in picture form. No doubt the meeting was memorable.

At 5:13 AM, Blogger le Enchanteur said...

This is a wonderful portrait of a Ferry Woman Vi. I won't suggest a Ferry Women's Union or I will have Lois hooked on a line in no time at all.

At 9:11 AM, Blogger Luna said...

I really love this. What a delight! Women with attitude. :)


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