Sunday, April 13, 2008


WARNING: Don't try this at home.
My neighbor Ella is 6 years old. She's my hero.

Risk. Or maybe RISK. Or RISK!!!!!!!! Ella's an expert and I am the neophyte.

"Aren't you afraid?" I ask her.
She gives me that universal look all 6 year olds have. "Yes." She giggles.
"You do it anyway?" I persist.
"Yes." She giggles even louder, leans back and sticks her tongue out and wriggles it.
"What are you doing?" I ask.
"The wind." She says. "I'm tasting the wind."
"What does it taste like? Ice Cream?" I ask.
"No. No. No." She shuts her eyes, shakes her head and laps like she's a kitten. "Like wind." She says this as if I am the silly one. I, who am on the ground watching her entwined in the rigging.
"What if you fall?" This question provokes the most laughter.
"I get wet." She says. "I get wet, silly." She rolls her eyes at me. I can't really see this, as she is too high up in the ratlines, but I can tell by her tone this is what she's doing.
I'm taking a page out of Ella's book, so to speak. I will not fail for want of trying. For want of taking risks.
The air is choked full of writerly inner dialog.

So Ella comes down and plays on the lines scampering up and down like a human crab.
And yes.
She does fall in.
Falls backwards with her eyes to the heavens.
Falls in with a giant splash.
Comes to the surface.
And laughs.


ORION said...

Least I get someone aghast at this. Ella's mother was standing right there -- Ella was born on this boat and has been doing this since she could walk.

LadyBronco said...

That is one fearless little girl!

I got dizzy just looking at her perched that high.

Go, Ella!

ChristineEldin said...

LOL! I was going to ask about the mama! She seems fearless. These are gorgeous photos. She will treasure them when she's older and needs to remember times when she was like this. Bravo for taking them!!!

The Writers' Group said...

Thank you, Ella, thank you, Pat. I needed this post just now.


Seeley deBorn said...

I've been told that climbing the rigging was a pastime of mine. I was usually harnessed though. Apparently my other passtime was winding my harness line so intricately within the rigging I'd have to be released for my mum to unravel it.

I expect that in 2 months my story will be done and I'll have to leave my crow's nest to fall into the abyss that is submission.

Beverly said...

Aloha =)

Thanks for your workshops so I now know what Organic Bunion is talking about!

Congrats on all your accomplishments!

Steve Malley said...

One of my favorite posts all year... LOVED IT!!

Polly Kahl said...

A really great post, Pat. I love Ella.

Janet said...

Well. Now you officially have to write her into the book.

Les said...

Hmmm, a girl born on a boat. Sounds like the makings of a story.

I'm amazed she wasn't in a harness. We saw a similar daredevil here (scroll down a few pictures). I think they were varnishing the masts. Or spitting on the gawkers below. ;)

Anonymous said...

Thank you

~~dawn anon
(maybe someday i'll register and have a real name!)

Brenda said...

Great post!

Holly Kennedy said...

Kids kill me with their lack of fear. The older I get, the more cautious and careful I become.
Sad stuff!

I really gotta learn how to apply what Ella does to the writing side of my life, though, hmmm?

Julie Weathers said...

This was great. I can just see that wonderful little girl. I think I'll print it out to remind me to look at the world like a little girl again.

I also liked your morning rituals. So funny.

Congratulations on the continued success with Lottery.


Manic Mom said...

oh my God. That is beautiful.


Your words.

The photos.

Tasting the wind!

Your inspiration!


Lisa R said...

I love this post! Risk is an essential part of life! Most of us don't do enough of it!

Thomas Kingsley Troupe said...

You've got a real-life Pippi Longstocking in your midst! She's balancing on a rope in that last picture.

How cool is she?

Katie Alender said...

Gorgeous child, wonderful post, Pat!

Michelle O'Neil said...

I want to be Ella.


There should be a children's book about her.

Anonymous said...

When anchored out, People swim, row, kayak out to us and say we are living the dream. When in the marina, the people watching us go through the details of living on a boat call us the crazy family!
So which is it?
On Mothersday, anchored out, with the dolphins incircling our sweet vessel, and Ella and her brothers dancing and singing for joy, the perfect moment happened AGAIN for me. We all have perfect moments, just very rarely. Everyone has a dockline that holds them back from their dreams. All you have to do is untie your dockline, and the perfect moment can be yours...

Aloha, Ella's mom

Anonymous said...

Thank you all for being impressed by my tricks I can do on a boat. I had lots of other adventures if you call my moms telephone number. I want to be a dragonologist when I grow up. In Hawaii some dragonologists live on boats and research sea serpents because sea serpents are dragons too. You have to be a scuba diver. I already snorkle with spinner dolphins. I learned to be a dragonologist from books. So email your name to Pat, and tell her to say hello to me. I have a mom and dad and two brothers - and me of coarse.
Aloha, Ella