Saturday, April 16, 2016


Make a six. No, not like that. Like this.

The rabbit runs out of the hole, runs around the tree, and back down the hole.

Practice this until it is second nature. Because you never know when you will be at the bottom of a well and someone will toss you a rope.

You know, someone like Idris Elba. Or Henry Rollins.

I mean, you wouldn't want to fail them.

Bowline. Bo-lynn.

I stood there at girl scout camp fumbling with the rope in my hands. Remembering learning how to tie a reef knot back in second grade, my father's hands on mine, right over left, then under. Left over right, then under. Surgeon knots to tie quilts. Braids of three, four, eight strands. Clove hitch: make an x, then go through the x. Going through that card deck of knots at my parents' house. Each beautiful twist practiced over and over for centuries: sailors, survivalists, climbers, fishermen. Finding myself a book of more knots than I will ever know. Always more to learn.

I practiced this knot. I taught this knot. I know this knot. It is my favorite. Bowline on a bight. Spanish bowline. It is one of the four essential maritime knots, and I know them all (reef knot, clove hitch, and figure eight are the other three). I love these knots. I know what they are for. I can make them and untie them and show you how.

Tie yourself up tight, connect yourself to all you can. Give yourself a place in the world. And then turn yourself around and take a look. Those knots won't come untied. You are safe. Knots are what keep us from falling off the earth. Without the proper knot, you can't sail. But if you know how to tie one, you can go anywhere.


  1. I was a Girl Guide. I knew that once. Not any more.
    If Idris Elba throws me a rope, I'm pulling him in with me.