On a bright, sunny, and very cold day, Serendipity opened a door on silken hinges and invited me in. Then, she held me in her embrace by summoning the easterly winds, bringing their 40 mph gusts and rollicking the seas, making my exit through that same door impossible for another day. I could not have chosen a better place to be stranded by weather.
Serendipity arranged for me to be in the company of friends in Halibut Cove, a small, picturesque, and somewhat remote hamlet across Kachemak Bay from the town of Homer, which is itself located at the southern end of the road system on the Kenai Peninsula.
|The Homer Spit, a long gravel bar projecting into Kachemak Bay. My journey took me to the far side of the bay and to the left.|
I had no plans to go to the cove when I began the 130-mile drive to Homer earlier in the day. Instead, I was driving to visit a friend who was hospitalized. I planned to return home directly after that visit.
|Hoar frost covers trees along the Kenai RIver in Cooper Landing.|
During the drive, I made a couple calls to wish others a happy Thanksgiving Day, and one of those calls went straight through Serendipity, who routed it to the friend I had dialed, who immediately invited me to her home.
|The RUssian Orthodox Church at Ninilchik.|
I hesitated. It’s not an easy thing to get to the cove. Instead, on this day our nation set aside to share with others and give thanks, the husband of the house warmed the cabin and engines of his catamaran-hulled boat and plowed his way to the small boat harbor where I waited.
I do not use the word “plowed” lightly, because that is exactly what we did on the return trip to the cove. I swear the waves and swells were deep enough to make the boat seem to scrape bottom at times. I almost fell out of my seat several times and had to brace one foot against the interior bulkhead and wrap an arm around the back of the chair I tried to occupy.
|The cabin of my friend's boat, the Far Side.|
|The Far Side in Halibut Cove.|
|Sunrise color across the bay.|
It’s funny how things happen. Just a few days before I thought how much I missed them and Halibut Cove and opening the door for Geri the cat. And here I was, joining them for Thanksgiving dinner and turning 76 years of age shortly after 6 o'clock.
The winds ruled on Friday and I smiled about being trapped in a slice of paradise.
|A sea otter hauls out in Halibut Cove.|
|My private quarters at Halibut Cove.|
|Geri, ruler of the house.|
|The view from the front deck.|
Saturday morning, my passage back across Kachemak Bay would not be on my friend’s boat, but on the venerable Storm Bird,* a 65-foot former Army T boat with a 17.7-foot beam, licensed to carry 49 passengers and freight. This steel-hulled boat, often called “the boat that built Halibut Cove,” ignored the waves in the bay, and, in less than an hour, I was in my pickup and pointed north towards home.
|Jay maneuvers the Storm Bird into the small boat harbor.|
|The Storm Bird tied up in the Homer Small Boat Harbor.|
I stopped by the hospital again before I left town, knowing full well that there would be no conversation. The meds have taken that from her. Instead, I held her unresponsive hand, said my silent goodbyes and thanks for her friendship, and left before tears kept me from finding my way out.
As I drove home, I realized that Serendipity had stopped a door from closing forever, so that I might slip through for a moment of grace.
|Many sea otters, like this one and her pup, have taken refuge from the high seas and are feeding in the protected waters of Halibut Cove.|
|A Steller's jay waits for breakfast in Halibut Cove.|
* For information on the remarkable Storm Bird: