October 31, 2010



Somewhere east of Lawrenceville, there's a bay-busting, rope-coiling blogger who knows what I'm talking about.

He's blogged about November in the air and in the wind and in his mind. He fears November, with good reason.

October is playful. She toys with us.

Now she is chill, now she is warm - from one day to the next, we never know for sure. But always there is hope. We remember her warmth, and it is enough.

November, though, is all business.

And his business is grim. He is here to settle accounts. He's of a single mind. When his work is done, there is no looking back.

On the east coast, our lives pitch, yaw, and roll on the waves of the seasons. Our dreams, like our boats, are launched and then put away. The rhythm of the seasons urges us on. It's now or never.

In California, the seasons are sweeter. Our November is a foggy shadow of his eastern cousin. We mark his coming with the turn of a page. We do not fear him.

Here, there is always tomorrow to do what needs doing. November becomes December, a new year begins, and still there is time. January, February, they'll do just as well. No need to hurry.

In California, our dreams and our boats are always floating. They'll be there when we get to them. Life here is so very sweet.

But is it too sweet? Does our time pass too slowly?

Do we mend our docklines only when we feel a storm coming?

Do we need our Novembers cold, dark, and unforgiving to remind us that not every winter is followed by a spring?



  1. "Not every winter is followed by a spring"? Dark. Very dark.

  2. It gets dark early in November.

  3. Extra credit if you know where I (sort of) borrowed the first line of this post from.

  4. I got a call this morning reminding me that my time has expired at the state marina. Unless of course I would like to pay for an extra month.

    November, I remember
    A slip once full has now grown cold

  5. Baydog, they're prompt with those renewal notices, aren't they?

    Tillerman, no, not Kipling.

    This comes from something that, in a peculiar way, was one of the most influential bits of American writing of the last century. The changes it inspired touched us all in one way or another.

    If no one gets it, I may do a post on it. I may do one, anyway.

  6. Somewhere west of Laramie there’s a broncho-busting, steer-roping girl who knows what I’m talking about.

    1923 car advert.

  7. Bronco busting (presumably her breathing was normal), but otherwise excellent!

    I may still do a post on this.

    It's a, by now, mostly forgotten piece of American advertising lore that gets written up in most 'Intro to Advertising' books. It has affected how almost everything, from cars to boats to toothpaste, gets marketed to us, and how those products themselves are designed.

    Wonderful piece of copy that still sticks in my head.

  8. See the original ad at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jordancarad.jpg

    He did write it "broncho". Was it a typo or was that an alternative spelling?

  9. Hmm, apologies, looks like the print ad did run it that way.

    I was looking at the Wikipedia (which is never wrong) quotation of the copy here (about half-way down the page).

    Here's another ad where they changed the image to make the car clearer, but kept the original copy, broncho and all.

    Wonder if there's an etymology lesson here, somewhere.

  10. Wikipedia (which is never wrong) has this to say about bronco:

    The term comes from the Spanish language word bronco, meaning "rough", which in Mexican usage also describes a horse. It was then borrowed and adapted in US cowboy lingo. It has also been spelled "broncho," though this form is virtually unknown in the western United States, where the word is most common.

    I suspect the copy writer, who also happened to be the owner of the car company, had never ridden a horse in his life. He did begin life as a newspaper reporter, though, and, like most reporters, was probably hopeless without the copy desk.

  11. When the owner writes the ad, nobody questions his spelling!

  12. In fact, reading that copy again (several times) I find it hard to believe it would ever have been printed like that if it wasn't written by the boss. The second paragraph makes no sense at all to me. Is the pony driving the car?

  13. May the etymology lesson be that you fellows spend too much time on Wiki and not enough time on the water? Some of us on the warmer coast believe that the sailing season has just begun.
    Just today paid for another year's moorage. Let the winter winds blow a hearty gale!


  14. Doryman, are you suggesting that we give up this nonsense about an old car ad and get back to doing something useful or purposeful?

    Where have I heard such a sentiment before? Wait, I've got it! I think it was the point of this post. Yes, it was!

    You're actually posting a commment on O Dock that's on point?

    Thank you.

    I wonder if anyone else agrees with my premise that in gentle climes our personal discipline and resolve too easily turn to goo.

    Does Margaritaville make us waste away or does it simply attract those who were lost anyway?

  15. The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
    when the skies of November turn gloomy.

  16. And every man knew, as the Captain did too, 'twas the witch of November come stealing.

  17. The sailing boats go, as the mariners all know, with the gales of November remembered.

  18. East coast, West coast... isn't there anything in between?

  19. Yes Frankie there's something between the East coast and the West Coast, In fact, the legend lives on from the Chippewa on down of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee.

    And surely you have heard that Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings in the ruins of her ice water mansion. Old Michigan steams like a young man's dreams. (The islands and bays are for sportsmen.)

    And farther below Lake Ontario takes in what Lake Erie can send her and the iron boats go as the mariners all know with the gales of November remembered.

  20. Or, you could just look at the map, Frankie.

  21. Maps languished in relative obscurity for years and would probably remain there today had they not been perfected by an enterprising and dedicated San Francisco cartographer and then brought to the world's attention by passionate San Francisco service stations.

  22. I've noticed that most SF Bay sailors seldom use charts.

    Once you're here, where else would you want to go?

  23. Oh right, I forgot, it's November there, isn't it?


  24. Saturday-leave Forked River State Marina, sail to Cedar Creek, haul out later that day. Cry on the way home. That'll be my day. Why, it seems like just yesterday I was writing about shrubs and beer, and sanding toerails.

  25. Saturday. Laser racing in Bristol?
    Sunday. Laser racing in Newport?



    I love November,

  26. All the leaves are brown the leaves are brown
    and the sky is gray and the sky is gray
    I've been on a I've been on a walk
    on a winter's day on a winter's day

  27. I would love to come to Newport in November.

  28. Ah thanks! Brilliant, the map! Where do I send the 75 cents?

  29. Please come to Newport with the snowfall
    We'll move into the Thames Street bars so far we can't be found
    And throw "I love you" echoes at the mansions
    And then lie awake at night till they come back around
    Please come to Newport
    She said no, boy, you come home to me

  30. Wisdom...

    BTW today is 76 degrees or something, I thought about a sail, but there is still tomorrow...

  31. Sometimes, i guess it's enough to just think about a sail.

  32. zen-

    you're evil...we'll be lucky if it breaks 50˚ here. :-)

  33. Actually Dan, I'm beginning to suspect that, wherever Zen is, the sun is more likely to shine.

  34. Oh, yes, there's something between the coasts. The 1775 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica had something to say ... I'm quoting from memory now, so I may not get it exactly verbatim ...

    New Mexico: A territory of Spain in North America, bounded by Mexico to the south, Florida to the east, California to the west, and unknown territories to the north.

  35. Uh-oh.

    I knew my map was going to get me into trouble. As popular as that cover was, I suspect the New Yorker never sold too many reprints in New Mexico.

    Still, if the Great American Novel is ever written, I think it's more likely to come from somewhere like New Mexico than from New York.

    Back to work, Carol Anne.