• close family • small boat • big world •

Stopping to Smell the Frangipani

May 2, 2015

by Paula
Falmouth Harbour, Antigua

Old habits are hard to break, especially when they are useful. But I’m working on it.

One of the most significant differences between our land-life and the year and a half we have spent living on our boat is the lack of time devoted to income-producing activities. We have always worked hard in our careers and saved our money, which has let us spend this time cruising without income. That has allowed us to focus on all that this life brings - exploring new places, snorkeling coral reefs, hiking through, relaxing with friends at a beach cookout. But along with the fun stuff comes many hours doing schoolwork preparation and teaching, boat repairs, writing, daily chores, and provisioning. We have enough to fill each day, fun and otherwise. But we are lucky to do without the major time-crunch stress that comes with full-time employment.

As I said, old habits are hard to break. I like being productive and I manage to create a new project if I don’t have one (or two or three) in progress. I manage to cram my days pretty full, most ending with much left on my want-to-do list. Paradise or not, I still feel the pull of getting more done that I have time for.

The other day I woke at the usual 5AM, working on the computer for a few hours during the morning quiet.  After breakfast I took two hours to make water runs - dinghy to shore, fill 33 gallons from a dockside tap into jugs, dinghy back to the boat and hoist the jugs on board, pour into the tanks from a deck-fill...repeat.. repeat. Between runs I got granola cooking in the oven and helped Nicole with math. Once finished I created the next
vocabulary lesson, made lunch for the kids, and prepped the dirty clothes for a later trip to the laundromat. Even here I am not immune from much of the less-glamorous aspects of daily life and the stress of too much to do.

Time to set off for the grocery store. The better of the two markets nearby Falmouth Harbour is just down the road from the Catamaran Marina. The walk took me down a dusty road dotted with small houses and a few junky-looking businesses. I walked briskly, both for the exercise and so that I could get the dinghy back soon for Greg to use. I passed by a house with a burst of flowering bushes and heard a Bach cello concerto that I have always loved - an unusual choice of music around here. Surprised, I kept on my fast path to the store.

But then I stopped. Wait - this is a wonderful moment - and I need to stop and enjoy it. I turned back to the little house and stood for a time, listening and taking in the gorgeous fragrance of those blooms. In a short time I moved on, again with my determined pace. But with me came a feeling of calm and contentment. I will always have a lot to do, no matter where I am living. But I need to keep that perspective - that things feel so much better when I take a moment to stop and smell the frangipani.