There is something simple about a cat in a window, watching the world go by, thorough slanting yellow-green eyes. Body relaxed as melted butter; a twitch of an eye or ear lets you know that the relaxation is merely a guise. Sleek muscles ripple under velvet fur, tensed and waiting to become part of what is going on, even when that never happens. How can the cat stand the heat and why does it stay there? It is really hot and it has to be pretty boring never to be part of what’s going on, right?
This trip on the boat has led to a better understanding of the cat on the windowsill. Sitting on the flying bridge during cold weather, the sun heats the strata-glass enclosure and turns it into a mini-greenhouse. Warm and cozy, it is wonderful to sit in the sun, protected from the elements and watch the world go by.
Outside might be a sail boat regatta, jibs, mains and spinnakers throwing jeweled silks against the impossibly blue skies.
Or, crossing the Chesapeake Bay, there are the watermen trolling for fish or paying their nets out, dragging them strung between opposing floats behind the transoms of theirboats.
On other days, the shoreline may transform from brilliantly white, sandy beaches into dense and lush green forests, ripe with the promise of spring.
And on still others, a hulking shadow may transform itself into a looming cargo ship bound for ports unknown, laden with commercial promise.
The sweep of the horizon can be broken by schools of bait fish swirling the waters or ospreys diving to keep their freshly caught fish safe from scavenging eagles. Dolphins may leap and dive ahead of the boat, smiling their knowing smiles and pelicans can glide alongside the flying bridge teasing us as they swoop away faster than we could ever hope to go.
Sometimes the window turns dark and lightning flashes behind distant black clouds, followed by thunder rumbling across the water. Severe weather alerts sound on our phones and computers below, signaling us to batten down whatever might fly if left unattended. An eerie stillness presses down; there is no sound, just flashes of light and flashbulb images of clouds, water and the boats around us. The water lies undisturbed and the nearby sailboats are at rest on their mooring balls.
Then comes a whoosh of wind. The strata-glass breathes in and out and the boat begins to groan and shift, throwing the bow against the mooring line the way that a racehorse throws its head against the reins inside the starting gate. Gusts of wind set the halyards around us to dancing, clanging their protests to the uncaring wind. The rain arrives, pattering at first and then pelting sideways against us and finally pocks of hail bounce off the decks. We dance in crazy circles, secured to the mooring ball and grateful we are not at anchor, as this type of squall line has blown us off the hook more than once, breeding a frightening sense of helplessness. It is scary to be so close to the weather and yet be so safe from it. The storm ends almost as quickly as it began.
There is no end to the possibilities of what might be on the other side of that glass. This must be the same way that the cat feels, perched and purring on its windowsill. Sometimes it is enough to watch.
Dedicated to the memory of Muffin.