In the summer of 1773 as the boy of 15 walked up his favorite hillside, the sky dark blue punctuated by soft white clouds floating like dreams above his head. As he looked back at the harbor beneath him, he could see the sky reflected in the blue waters and that water was crowded with vessels from near and far. The harbors blue waters also made more dreamlike by the sails of the tall ships. It was as if the sky was the sea and the sea was the sky. In a sense, it seemed to him that the world could be turned in either direction and still holds a steady keel.
The boy continued his hillside walk, on up to the highest point where he could look down on the harbor he loved; look down on the schooners and whalers, the frigates and other war ships. Mostly, it was the ships that carried goods from far away and exotic places that thrilled him the most. He dreamed of the day when he would sail outside the harbor to those places of mystery and magic. The sea called to him like a mistress who waits in the dark just behind the curtain, calling to him to learn from the trade winds of life that will forever blow.
The year 1773 was also a time of constant unrest in his town. The colonies were in disfavor with the mother land of England and it would be on December 16 of that same year that the defiance toward the British government and its taxation on tea would result in an act of civil disobedience. On the evening of December 16, 1773, a group of men calling themselves the “Sons of Liberty” went to the Boston Harbor. The men were dressed as Mohawk Indians. They boarded three British ships, the Beaver, the Eleanor and the Dartmouth, and dumped forty-five tons of tea into the Boston Harbor.
But on this particular summer day, before what would come to be known as the Boston Tea Party, the boy stood and looked at his town, the town he loved. Sometimes, he wondered what changes time would bring to his city, how hundreds of years from now would now change what he gazed upon, the new and incredible things that would change his city and he would never see them. Oh, how he longed to be a part of this place forever.
Three hundred years and one night later, the man wakes from his dream, the same dream he had, had repeatedly since childhood. The dreams of the boy and the great sailing ships, the harbor and the view from the top of his hill. That same morning, the man walked to the top of the hill and looked down and he knew this same hill had talked to him and called to him through the ages. Even though the skyline had changed, the sky had not, and though the ships had engines instead of sails, his harbor remained mostly unchanged. As the man stood atop his hill, he could not help but wonder which was the dream, the man or the boy, which was the sky, the harbor below him or the sky above him.
It was once again as if one was either and both existed and this place had always been and always would be his place in time and space. There was more to know and he knew that the dream, whichever one it was, was not yet over. Was it the dream of the boy? Or the dreams of the man? Could you turn one way and one the other and still have an even keel?
A FEW SHIPS OF THE TIMES
FRIGATE GOVERNMENT AT AT WORK