“Congratulate the temporary,” was one of the many sayings of the late Al McGuire. The quotable coach of the Marquette basketball team lived up to his motto: recruiting blue chip players, only to encourage them to turn pro to support their families. I also think these are good words to live by, when long-term prospects are less than encouraging.
I can think of no better way to congratulate the temporary than cruising on a boat over the blue surface of Lake Michigan. If you don’t own a boat, it helps if you have a friend who does. A few weeks ago, we were in New Buffalo, Mich. It’s an ideal summer destination, set firmly in “vacationland” but less than a two-hour drive from Forest Park.
We have friends up there who own a 31-foot boat. They invited us to watch the fireworks on the 4th from offshore. As we idled out of the harbor, we passed the huddled masses on the beach, yearning to breathe free. Normally, I’m one of the huddled guys, marveling at the passing boats. This was unreal.
It became even more magical when a red full moon rose in the east. It served as an unforgettable backdrop to bombs bursting in the air. We were joined by my friend’s relative, who had purchased their cruiser that day in Chicago. Imagine buying a boat and gliding across the lake from the 31st Street Harbor to watch fireworks on the western shore.
The new boat owners had not yet learned to repel boarders, so we toured their craft, taking in that new-boat smell. As if things couldn’t get any better, our friends shared their morning catch with us the next day. We filled our freezer with salmon, which we look forward to congratulating some day.
Now if you don’t have a friend who’s a boat owner, all is not lost. One of our kids paid for a sailboat trip, so we could celebrate our anniversary. We received permission to come aboard the Red Witch, a wooden schooner docked at Burnham Harbor. Pirate music was being piped from below decks.
The cruise included complimentary drinks and conviviality broke out among the dozen landlubbers, who came from far-flung places like Belgium and Detroit. The skies also broke, though, driving us below to escape the squall. The hearty crew trimmed the sails and the good captain steered us toward sunlight.
During the idyllic return trip, Brendan entertained his captive audience with tunes on his banjo. Captain Anthony assured us that the Red Witch was the “greenest” boat in Chicago and its weathered timbers made it the “most healing.”
We may not see any more boat rides on the horizon; all we can do is embrace the temporary and give it a firm pat on the back.
John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.