This is the view from the cockpit of my sailboat. A high black ridge runs along my right, its jagged peaks are topped with steel mesh towers, like something built from a child’s giant erector set. The thin cables strung between them carry electricity from Hoover Dam to the Las Vegas Valley. The sloping feet of this ridge rest in the lake, green scrub bushes dot the slopes.
Lake Mead cradles my hull and stretches out around me – past the break-water built of truck tires, to the Boulder Islands and the lower basin beyond them. The lake extends further into canyons I can’t see, but I’m not sailing there today.
Two small toes on my left foot are broken and I am ensconced in my cockpit surrounded by pillows, recuperating. A small breeze ruffles the surface of the water and the sun reflects off each ripple, specks of glitter strewn across the bay.
The green-gray of the lake is deceiving; it can change as quickly as the wind. Yesterday it was howling and the water frothed with white caps and turned gray. Waves smacked into the stern of my boat and splattered the cushions in the cockpit –gusts were up to 41 mph.
Today a mama duck escorts her five teenagers to my stern. I toss them stale crackers and dog kibble, which they gobble up as though they’re starving. Then they glide two boats over to the next handout. I imagine the mama telling them which boats in the marina can be relied on for regular meals. Fat two-foot carp lurk in the water just below the duck’s feet to catch the scraps.
The breeze picks up and dies, picks up and dies and the song of the water hitting the bottom of my dinghy changes accordingly: blues, rap, rock and roll, blues.
Its 88 degrees at noon in the middle of June, an unheard of temperature for us, we’re normally into triple digits by now. If it was 110 and I was down below in the AC, I’d miss the Great Blue heron just gliding into a landing on the shore, or the turkey buzzards riding the thermals off the ridge. I wouldn’t hear the wind set the halyards ticking on the sailboat masts around me. And I wouldn’t be sitting in my underwear in the cockpit reading Amy Tan and healing.