July 2, 2012
Music for easy ascension.
Earlier on this hazy day, a small private seaplane flew quite low over the roof of my house. In the summertime, while not legal, this isn’t entirely unusual, and I didn’t think anything of it.
Until it landed right in front of me, about 100 yards from the shore.
This hasn’t happened since I’ve lived in this spot. Sure, there are tons of float planes here, but in this corner of the island, they remain floating– in the air. A pod of orcas had passed by not much earlier. Was this a newfangled whale-watching tour?
From my desk as it came from the sky…
It was a controlled landing, so if it was an emergency, at least it was a slow-motion one.
I palmed my binoculars.
Maybe it was a student getting flying lessons. Lesson #1: do not land on a whale. Lesson #2: do not fly into a bald eagle. Lesson #3: do not crash into someone’s bathroom (in all cases it will be quite a mess and not work out well for any involved).
The pilot shut down the propeller. The starboard hatch opened and human legs dangled. The person, at best guess a female, was dressed in all-black that looked like either a neoprene wetsuit, or a typical New York City art world fashion statement.
Finally, someone bringing a little style to the ‘hood.
She got out, stood, looked at the struts and under the body.
What, did she drop her keys?
Then she knelt on one of the floats.
Maybe it was a SCUBA diving tour?
After calmly checking around, she (I think) climbed back in the plane to join what seemed to be more than one person inside. The little Lego flying object floated on the water a while, bobbing like an adorable bathtub toy.
And then, it headed straight toward me.
At slow speed, thankfully.
I stood barefoot on the deck, thinking:
1. They are in distress of some sort, their communications are down, and they’ll call out to me to get them a tow.
2. It’s a woman pilot who is not afraid to ask someone for directions and hey, I happen to be handy since there’s absolutely nothing between me and Port Townsend.
3. They are baking a cake on board and need to borrow a cup of sugar.
The other thought that went through my mind was the one that occurs to many an artist who works at home, when an unexpected visitor comes to the door:
“It’s 1 p.m. and I’m in my bathrobe. Crap, what are these people going to think??”
The plane came so close to the house that I could easily have accommodated any and all of the above requests. In the comfort of my bathrobe, no less.
But none were made: just before touching the strands of bull kelp, it turned and continued a couple of hundred yards south.
Right into the cove. A dead-end if ever there was one.
Unless, of course, this is one of those amazing amphibious vehicles that can crawl up onto the beach, get into four wheel drive, and tromp around the island. When I lived in Santa Barbara, I remember seeing a similar tourist bus called the Land Shark.
Maybe they’re paying a surprise visit to one of my neighbors?
Then the little Tonka Toy spun around to face the open sea, its engine revved, and like an awkward bird, it made use of a good amount of watery runway before lifting into the air.
I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…
Well, sort of lifting into the air: two seconds later it ducked down and the starboard float hit the water. I was momentarily worried. Then happily, The Little Seaplane That Could, did.
Bye bye cute toy!
Safe travels, wherever they take you. And may you remain aloft, until you choose to be afloat.