The Nordic Express is a large freight boat that comes in extremely late every Thursday night, now, but when I was little it used to come in around six-thirty or seven o’clock every Friday night.
Mom and I would usually just be finishing the supper dishes when we’d hear the great loud blast of the horn coming from the Nordic Express as it came to a stop beside the pebbly gray wharf of our tiny rock-covered island, Harrington Harbour. That’s when Dad and I would start getting ready.
I would scurry around for my rubber boots, gloves and warm jacket, sometimes leaving the dishes. No matter how much I tried to hurry Dad was always ready before me, but he was patient and never complained. Then after lightly kissing Mom good-bye, I’d hurry off after Dad.
He’d stroll along with me trotting along beside him, my rubber boots flapping as we headed for the wharf.
Usually a fall-flavored wind nearly blew our feet from under us, but still we always continued on. If the gangplank wasn’t down, we’d go into the shed to keep out the ever blowing wind and wait and watch; Dad liked this; so did I.
For some reason when I was on the wharf I always held my dad’s hand. His skin was worn like leather and it looked like it had been stained brown; mine wasn’t quite so brown or worn, just evenly tanned. Even though he never said so, I knew Dad didn’t hold my hand because I might fall in the water; he trusted me not to go near the edge, and I didn’t hold his hand because I was scared. He knew this even though I didn’t say so. That’s the way we are; we don’t have to say everything, we just know.
I liked holding his hand as he explained things about the boat to me. I liked looking into his deep sea-green eyes whenever he talked about boats; they shone like diamonds in the eerie darkness of the night. My dad loves boats, and so do I.
Once the gangplank was down and the people got off, Dad and I would get on. I liked swaying back and forth as we walked up the shaky gangplank. As soon as we boarded we always headed straight for the vending machines. Dad always had a loonie or two in his pocket; he’d let me push the buttons and drop the money in too; he knew I liked it without me having to tell him. I’d get a bag of chips or a chocolate bar, then sometimes, while I was contentedly munching my little treat, we’d talk to Dad’s friends who worked on the boat, or rather he’d talk, I’d eat and listen.
Then we’d head for home, with the wind lashing at our backs, just me and Dad. I love this memory of my childhood, and so does Dad.