I picked up the bumper as it floated past a big rock. It’s a tube of rubber that boats hang off their sides to protect the hulls from smashing against the docks. It looked almost new and I guessed it had fallen off some boat in the waves.
I slung it across the bow and paddled on, hiding from the wind between islands, sneaking west in little pieces.
Near sunset I came across a sailboat with an orange cat sitting on the deck anchored near a trawler with a black dog. They were in a long, calm bay and the trawler had let down her dingy to go visit the sailboat.
I paddled close and asked if either needed a bumper, that I’d found it floating in the water and didn’t want it to go to waste. The trawler had lost one on its trip from St. Paul and they offered to pay me or give me supplies in return.
I shook my head and thought of paddling past a pair of anchored sailboats and a small trawler this morning, how a woman had called out and invited me for coffee, how coffee turned to lunch and we ate soup and salmon wraps on the back deck of the Georgian Mist. I thought of Tom charging my phone battery overnight on the Journey, sleeping on the Blewgrass couch, sipping hot chocolate and watching movies on the Off Leash. I thought of how those little moments have meaning.
“No,” I said. “It’s yours. I’m glad to get rid of it.”