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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The butterfly flapping

Port tack, my bunk elevated. I'm lying on my left side, elongated S shaped, back pressed into a long roll of clothing and bunny rug, itself filling the curve of the lee cloth under its aluminium support bar. My head is pillowed on my double thickness Finisterre fleece jacket on top of a scrunched pillow, locking it in place so that my neck muscles can relax, arms bent away from me trying to keep circulation unchecked. Dozy, having just come off watch in the dark and drooping for sleep. Woolworths pyjama pants (yes! and they are perfect for sleeping in the tropics) and a T shirt. Boat gently rolling and pitching. I'm conscious that - well, I'm conscious that I'm conscious, awake, and Berri, as always, is talking to me in her own special language, grammatically and syntactically unique and so dense with implied and nuanced self confirming cross reference. Tiny, irregular 'click' 'click click' continuous, barely audible yet also transmitted through the fabric around me. Sleep denied - what is it? Brain surfaces through dozy daze - first, there's none of the usual roar and clatter of Berri's passage through the Atlantic moguls - just the music of water burbling past the hull a few inches from my ear. And the undulating pitch of the wind generator in the back of the orchestra. The wind has dropped and the seas have subsided. Nice!. So...what is it? Audit and inventory of everything around me, reluctant to wake properly and find head torch. The boat feels balanced and happy, no longer thudding through the swell - so for the first time, perhaps since we left, I'm able to hear this click? Careful mental review of everything around me capable of making the sound - doesn't seem very important but I must identify it and file it so that when I hear it in future it's part of the natural background. Ahhh! There's a fire extinguisher above my feet on the bulkhead and it has a little metal label with the date of last service that is usually captured by the strap holding the extinguished into its bracket - could it have come out? I sit up, feel for the label and yep - that's it. So is the extinguisher secure? Seems ok. Uncoil back into sleeping S and let the dozy daze envelop the swede.

I think it is this flow of the subconscious, a subliminal sensing of the unfolding pattern of things that makes it so difficult for me to listen to music or to read anything more demanding than escapist whodunnitry. Each requires a level of concentration that drowns the subconscious and the subconscious keeps fighting back. It's a form of obsession but it has saved our bacon several times that were obvious and I'm absolutely sure umpteen times before they became obvious. It is aural, visual and tactile - like the aircraft pilot whose eyes see broken patterns on her instruments or who feels that tiny buzz of resonance and is instantly warned, I hear and see and feel the boat. Today the click, yesterday the tweaker on the wrong side of the sheet, years ago the feel of the almost broken forestay. Makes me highly unpopular sometimes! I remember getting cross with McQ last year for being so absorbed in whatever her ipod was doing to the inside of her head that she had not noticed the leech flutter or something equally trivial in itself but part of a larger pattern - the butterfly's wing on the other side of the world.

And I still miss heaps - the disconnected windvane when Pete went overboard 4 years ago, for instance. Complacency sucks but it's so easy!

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