Hudson, FL – February 8, 2013
The rain came at sunset last night, thick and fast, washing over the tidal flats and away. I looked for somewhere to camp, but found only grass and mud that sunk into shadows as the sky turned from pink to black.
It’s a maze back there. Winding channels. Crowns of palms surrounded by head-high grass. Enough light spilling up from Tampa to make out the water.
I watched lightning flash across the southern sky. Bolts fingered out, reached white-hot through the clouds, made me count in my head, waiting, waiting for thunder that did not come.
The storm swept on like a wave, pulling a starry sky in its wake. Tides rose, sinking the grass and mangroves, dropping the land into the water. I had nowhere to go so I kept paddling, slipping though the back channels to a distant island with ten palms.
They’re mostly husks now and the island looked sunk like a ship in shallow water, the palm trees like masts. Bushes, grass, boulders, I could see them all below me in my headlamp, staring up at the surface like ghosts. I pulled the boat on top of the small slice of sand left. The bow and stern rested in mud, waves lapped at the plastic, but there was enough dry land, just enough, six feet to lay in, a place to sit and marvel at the sun and moon spinning off in space, pulling enough water to sink an island then make it rise again in the morning.
The water began to slide back and my eyes closed just past midnight. This morning I had to drag the boat fifty feet to get it wet.