The smell of the mahogany immediately transports me back in time. I am a young child sitting in my grandfather’s shop watching him build a boat from lumber and nails. Glancing around the room at the piles of sawdust and machines, I see the screws and nails sorted into containers which earlier had served as my baby food jars. My grandpa is a man of few words, so we quietly enjoy each other’s company as he crafts the wood into a sleek runabout.
I run my hand along the varnish and hear my parents tell me not to step on it until I have washed off my sandy little feet. I sit washing my feet in the river and look out across the water. My grandmother is floating along with a big grin on her face, waving at me.
The tow rope hook on the stern takes me to the “endless summer” just before I became a teenager when I was trying desperately to learn to water ski. Neck deep in water, skis out in front of me, hands cramped around the rope’s handle, I have been dragged behind the boat like this for months with no luck. This time something is different when the engine engages, I suddenly find myself popping out of the water looking down with surprise at those big red skis as they cut across the waves. I look up at my dad driving the boat and his face tells me he is clearly as excited as I am. Instantly, I love the feeling of zooming along atop the water.
Inside the boat I spot one of my daughter’s “floaties” she wore when learning to swim and I am once again a young mother. I hold Kate up while she splishes and splashes about in the river and then we get in the boat so I can dry her off. Her wet bathing suit leaks through the towel to make a damp spot on my clothes as she sits on my lap for the trip back to the dock. Her braid whips around in the wind and tickles my face.
Then I travel back to the present, a mature woman at Saltair Station where my loving husband has just unloaded that same precious boat built by my grandfather all those years ago. Here in Bob’s wood shop, my grandfather is with me and the circle is complete.