Welcoming Transience

May 27, 2018 | Rev. Caitlin Cotter Coillberg

When I was a sophomore in college I did a maritime studies program based out of Mystic Seaport in Connecticut. As part of that program I joined with classmates on a research project studying the eating habits of cormorants — it was mostly very stinky work identifying various fish species by the otoliths — that’s ear bones — found in the cormorant’s pellets — basically their vomit. The best part of that project was waking up intensely early to get in an old motor boat and cruise down the river to an island where we found the pellets. There’s just something magical about those early hours, when the mist over the river is starting to lift and everyone is a little bleary with the newness of the day.

On one of those trips up the river I remember passing a marina’s dock with a large new sign on it. “Transients welcome” read my professor from her place at the helm. She paused. “I wish more places had that sign.”

Now, I don’t know what she meant by that — I definitely wasn’t awake enough to ask in the moment, and I doubt she remembers the comment this many years later. Maybe she was simply thinking of a time she was trying to find dockage while on a sailing trip.

But my memory of her comment and of that sign reading “transients welcome” have stuck with me and I’ve thought a great deal about what she might have meant.

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