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Watching Peter Pan gets me choked up for my childhood.
And, Wendy, There are Mermaids
If you know me, you know that when I was two my parents sold their house and bought a 38' cutter which they named Katherine (after my mom's middle name). We lived on the boat, which tied up to a slip in Oxnard Harbor. On weekends we would often untie the lines from the dock and sail out to the Channel Islands which skirt the Santa Barbara channel just offshore from Southern California.
I was very young at that stage, but we lived aboard Katherine for five years, so a lot of my later memories from ages five, six and seven are pretty vivid. I indelibly love sailing and the water as a result.
When I knew my dad was coming to visit, I immediately booked a reservation with a sailing club for he and Adam and I to go sailing in Pittwater, just north of Sydney. I took a sailing class in college, but I was still surprised at how well I handled myself. I got a feeling for the wind ingrained into my mutable child's brain that couldn't be erased in the intervening years. We paid for the day's sail, but it wasn't just a boat charter -- we got to be part of the crew, pulling lines to tack and jibe, and we got a turn at the helm if we wanted. It was wonderful, it called up a part of my life I'll always deeply love and regret neglecting.
When I was little, we'd often sail to Santa Cruz Island, one of the nearest and largest in the Channel Islands. The north side of the island was inevitably either foggy or windy or both. We sometimes stayed a night or two in Little Scorpion, but often sailed around to the south side where the island shielded the weather and offered mellow, calm, warm anchorages. But before we scuttled off to sun ourselves at Coches Prietos we'd often make a visit to the Dragon Cave.
The Dragon Cave was a sea cave that wound back into the igneous rock of the island through a dark opening large enough only for a dinghy. If the tides weren't right you couldn't squeeze past the twists in the passage. Emanating from the cave was a deep, rhythmic rumbling, because somewhere hidden in the back a dragon was sleeping, snoring loudly. I would insist that choruses of "Puff the Magic Dragon" be sung while I gazed at the cave with a thrill running right through the middle of me.
We only went all the way into the cave a couple of times. As you pushed the dinghy through the darkness, bumping against the bubbled pumice of the cave walls, cool air would rush around you. Finally you alit on a small pebble beach at the back of the cave. A wave would surge in and pull back, rolling and tumbling over the pebbles which would clatter against each other. The clatter would multiply a thousand times over and echo against the rugged cave walls.
Last night we went to watch Peter Pan at the cinema. Mr Wiggins and I needed a veg out night, but I didn't really feel like sitting around at home, so this was our solution. The movie wasn't great but it was easily enjoyable. It captured the brightness, excitement and color that comes from imaginative and happy children. The screenplay diverged noticeably from the original story, but still captured the spirit of it well, and did include a lot of the good quotes (such as Mrs Darling's hidden kiss, in the right hand corner of her mouth). It was a good film, and it brought about a feeling that grabs a hold of my throat every time I see films of that sort. It squeezes my throat and burns my eyes and makes me think of the Dragon Cave.
I went to the back of the Dragon Cave and though I never saw the dragon, I always kept very quiet so as not to wake it up. I wandered to the very back of the pebble beach and saw the cave continued on back into the darkness, just a slim crack in the rock that you couldn't squeeze through. I saw the pebbles rolling over and over as the waves pushed in and fell back, making that rumbling noise so like a snore. I could understand that rocks were making the sound. But I also knew, with a belief that was fierce and firm in my head, that the dragon still slept there, snoring, back in the darkness.