Issue: May 2012
BYPOINTS: The 'Aahs' Have It

Aah. . . . Yes, that's what I said: aah. It's a common three-letter word, with several meanings. It's what you say when the dentist wants a closer look at your upper left second molar. It's what you say when you take off your shoes after a long day on your feet, or when someone scratches your back just right, or when you realize that the butler in fact did not do it.

But I use the term here in the strictly nautical sense. I use it to mean that at last the winter is over, thank the gods and goddesses, and not just officially over, by virtue of the calendar, but really over, by virtue of it being sunny and 70 degrees on a Thursday afternoon and therefore absolutely impossible not to leave work early and take the Chesapeake Boating Club's center-console out for a little toot over to Spa Creek and back. I mean that aah.

So I did that. And, lo, it was good. The weather, as I mentioned, was perfect. The trees and lawns were greening up, the blossoms were blossoming, and at the mouth of Spa Creek there were, oh, I'd say about thirteen, fourteen thousand little training sailboats from the Annapolis Yacht Club--420s, I think, darting and wheeling chaotically. Clearly not a race, as I first thought--too chaotic. An afternoon practice, I guessed. Yes, there was the coach in an anchored Boston Whaler, megaphone in hand.

Colorful sails, gorgeous afternoon light, beautiful blue pre-algal water--it all begged to be photographed, so out came the camera. I got some nice shots, I think . . . until I found myself in the way. I thought I was clear of the action, upwind of the coach, but then one of the boats zigged, then zagged, and suddenly was bearing down on me. "What's he doing?" I heard one of the kids say, and it took a half a beat for me to realize he was talking about me. I goosed the engine and scooted clear. "He likes taking pictures of little boys," I heard one of the young sailors say. The little wiseacre. I have to admit, though, that's pretty funny. Finally the coach chimed in. "Please stay out of the way of our practice, sir."

Well, I never! . . . I'll have you know I'm a journalist, young man, and--

What I actually said was, "Sorry! I thought I was out of the way." And off I went, looking for other ways to get into trouble on that splendid Thursday afternoon. I explored Spa Creek, snapping pictures like a madman in the perfect golden light, and then headed home to Back Creek--where I managed to get scolded yet again. This time it was a pair of ospreys who had issues with me and my nosy camera. Setting up housekeeping on the "5" marker, they squealed and screeched and circled the nest until I got the message and puttered away.

That's when it occurred to me that I should invest in, or at least borrow, a longer lens for the camera. That would have kept me out of trouble in both instances. But, really, I can't be expected to think of such mundane, practical things when the sun is shining, the air is warm and the Bay is beckoning. When that happens, all I can think is . . . aah!


Tim Sayles, Editor