Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Lone White Sail

Back in high school days I once read a novel by a Soviet author whose name has slipped from my memory, neither can I recall what it was about except a faint impression that it was idyllic and a bit sad. But the title was firmly stuck in my mind because I thought it was beautiful and evocative: A Lone White Sail.

During a recent excursion along the Potomac River, when the hiking trail I was following emerged from a dense growth of verdant summer foliage, I saw a lone white sail in the distant shimmery water towards the far side of the river. It struck me as vaguely familiar yet elusive, like something that had come to me in a dream.

The trail continued to meander along the rugged river bank through marshes and woods, crossing narrow footbridges that hang above patches of water plants dotted with violet flowers, plunging into the thick green shades of huge old trees where a faint smell of rotten wood was lurking in the cool air, cutting between luxuriant hedges of shrubs and vines adorned with bright orange blooms. Whenever I came out to an open view of the river, that white sail was always there as if it had been waiting up for me.

I stopped at the top of a cliff, standing beside a boulder between two smooth, sturdy maple trees, staring out at the lone white sail in the distance. I could feel rising in me a yearning to be on that boat and glide away to another world. Suddenly I understood why the image of a lone white sail had long been appealing to me. It was in fact a projection of myself.

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