Saturday, July 19, 2008
Fridays at the WoodenBoat School are a bit of an up and a down for most of the students (and faculty, for that matter)
On Friday afternoon most of the classes are winding down with the exception of those that have a bit more time scheduled for Saturday morning. Lots of work gets accomplished on Fridays and you can finally see the classes winding down with finished projects and closure on what has been learned. It's time to go back to the reality of the "world".
When you are at the WoodenBoat School, you are surrounded with others of a like mind who have an interest in wooden boats in all of their shapes and sizes, whether you like to build them, sail them, carve beautiful name plates, tie wonderful fancy-work or take beautiful pictures of them. During your time, you are immersed in what you are doing almost all the time. You tend to spend your time getting to know those who are there for the week and learning your craft. The focus is really inwards. At the school, there are no televisions and only a few radios. The newspaper rarely makes an appearance. For all intents and purposes, the greater world outside and its pressures do not exist. In todays hectic pace, this is really difficult to find.
It's a bit like summer camp, and at the end of the time there, it's hard to leave this wonderful place and the friends you've met.
On Friday evening, there is the weekly lobster bake. It is the final opportunity for most to spend time together. Families and friends come and join in the festivities and the celebration of a week (or two...) spent by loved ones at the school.
In good weather, it is held down at the waterfront on a large lawn overlooking the bay. In poor or threatening weather, it is held in a pole barn just up the hill. It generally consists of freshly cooked lobster, crab, mussels, corn, salads, bread, and cake. While there is lemonade and iced tea available, other refreshments tend to dominate. They range from the humble bottle of beer or wine, to champagne for those celebrating their time at the school.
The boathouse is usually open for guests to enjoy the views or the fireplace if it is chilly. Very often, this is hosted by the sailing class and there may be appetizers supplied by the students in the boathouse.
Rich Hilsinger, the school's director introduces the faculty of the week and relays any pertinent news to those assembled before dinner breaks up. The evening isn't usually done, however. Students tend to wander away to spend those last precious moments with those they've gotten to know having a beer up at the shop and showing those friends and family what they've been doing all week long.
My class was a two-week long class and I really have two separate perspectives on the different Fridays. My first Friday passed without much thought as I knew I had another week at the school. At the time, I had a lot on my mind about how I wanted the next week to go. In some ways I suppose I was a bit detached. My final Friday was a bit more emotional in a lot of respects, as the reality of the fact that I would be returning to the "world" left me a bit torn. I was looking forward to seeing my family, but not looking forward to leaving the place or the people that I had grown close to.