Autumn watch

We started walking back from Dunkin Donuts right at four o’clock. “Look,” said Carol, “There are two sailboats out on the harbor.” Two sloops, both carrying mainsail and jib, were tacking back and forth across the harbor. Most recreational sailors lack the courage to actually sail in the harbor, in the midst of the working fishing boats, tugs, other recreational boats, and ferries, and usually when we see sailboats, the sails are furled and they are being pushed by propellor and motor. But today, perhaps because the winds were perfect and there were no other recreational boats out, these two sloops gracefully sailed back and forth across the harbor. A large fishing boat was holding a position near the swing-span bridge, waiting for quarter after four when the bridge would swing open to let it into the inner harbor. One of the sloops sailed quite near the fishing boat, the top of the sloop’s mast about as tall as the cranes and masts on the fishing boat. “I wonder what they’re doing,” said Carol, “maybe they’re hailing the fishing boat?” I said I didn’t know, but it was pleasant to watch: the graceful white sailboat gliding by the big, tough fishing boat. By then, the sun had gone down behind the city’s skyline, and darkness was settling over the harbor.