An Embarrassment of Mangoes

An Embarrassment of Mangoes by Ann Vanderhoof Read Free Book Online

Book: An Embarrassment of Mangoes by Ann Vanderhoof Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ann Vanderhoof
Tags: Fiction
Steve’s not, and his body clock has been winning.
Receta
is usually the last boat out of an anchorage in the morning. And as I begin to hear the
clank, clank, clank
of other anchor chains being raised, my stomach starts to churn.
Those boats
know
how long it takes to get to the next good stopping place. They’re going to get there
first
and there won’t be
any
space left when we arrive. We need to get underway
now. Steve, meanwhile, is just getting his second eye open and thinking about rolling out of bed and enjoying a coffee.
    In Worton Creek a few weeks ago, I was
determined
to get underway with “the übercruisers,” as Steve has dismissively dubbed the early-risers. So I shook him awake at 6:30, listened to the grumbling, pried him out of the berth, and considered it a major accomplishment when we were actually ready to hoist anchor at eight.
Receta
seemed sluggish as I motored forward so he could pull in the anchor chain. “Goose it,” he called back to me from the bow, and I revved up the engine. But it was as if we were moving through thick, gooey chocolate syrup.
    And then the syrup congealed. We were stuck fast in Worton Creek mud.
    Lake Ontario doesn’t have tides, so I wasn’t used to thinking about them. In my eagerness for an early start, I had overlooked one very important point: We had come into Worton Creek at high tide. At 8 A . M . the next morning, the tide was falling, and the corner of the creek we were sitting in no longer had the five feet of water
Receta
requires.
    It wasn’t until early afternoon that the tide had risen enough to allow us to pop free and push very slowly through the muck. During the intervening six hours, I got to practice cultivating patience—never one of my defining characteristics—and stew about losing whatever leverage I had with Steve on matters relating to early awakenings and early starts. He, meanwhile, yawned extravagantly and grinned like the Cheshire cat.
    Clearly, I’m going to need more patience if I’m to be happy in this new lifestyle. Just the daily act of anchoring is exhausting my limited supply. Figuring tide, current, and
Receta
’s 23,000 pounds into the anchoring equation is new to Steve. He likes to think it through. Carefully. Slowly. This is an admirable characteristic, but at the time he’s exercising it, I’m bristling with impatience to get the hook down, since after that I can relax. I realize that the better the spot we choose to anchor, the more likely we are to have a relaxing evening without having to worry about the anchor dragging or
Receta
swinging too close to another boat when the tide reverses. But as we circle the anchorage a second time, and I watch someone else take the spot I had suggested on the first pass, I’m about ready to explode.
     
    B y the time we reach the Waccamaw River across the South Carolina line, Spanish moss drips from the trees like fringe on a pale-green shawl draped around an elegant southern lady.
    There’s no question we’re in the South now, with grits on every menu and accents like warm honey. “We don’t care how you do it in the North” is emblazoned on bumper stickers in Beaufort, South Carolina (pronounced
Bew-fort
, and not to be confused with
Boh-fort
, North Carolina), and cocktail napkins in Savannah, Georgia (just off the waterway, nine miles up the Savannah River). And far too many Confederate flags hang stubbornly, aggressively from the rural homes we pass on the banks of the canals and rivers.
    We’ve been seeing the flat-bottomed skiffs for a couple of days now, sitting low in the water off the channel, with one or two men onboard tossing nets over the side. From a distance, the nets look like ballet dancers’ sequin-studded skirts—billowing, swirling, sparkling as the sun catches the droplets that spin from them into the air. In fact, Steve has taken to spying on the men in the skiffs through binoculars as we motor past, studying how they throw, getting the nets to hang for

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