by Philip Torrens
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the boathouse,
Not a creature was stirring, no, not a sea-louse.
The sea-socks were hung by the Coleman with care,
in hopes that Saint Neptune soon would be there.
Our “minnows” were hammocked within the boat sheds,
while visions of paddle-floats danced in their heads.
And mama in her sprayskirt and I in my Nordkapp,
had just settled down for an overdue “nap.”
When out in the cove there arose such a splashing,
I slipped from my cockpit to see who could be thrashing.
And what should my night-vision goggles define
but an over-sized umiak, towed by sea-lions.
With a little old pilot, so drippy and wet,
I knew in a moment it must be Saint Nep.
More rapid than tide-rips his swimmers they sailored
And he whistled and shouted and sternly loud-hailered;
“Now, Randell! Now Washbourne! Now Nigel and Vixen!
On Derrick! On Winters! —No dirty tricks, Nixon!
To the side of the dock! To the base of the ramps!
Now stroke away! Stroke away! Stroke away tramps!”
As he cracked with a bull kelp, they swam even more.
They first beached the boat, then tugged it ashore.
And although they’d resent the name I’m afraid,
t’was a seal landing those sea-lions made.
He was dressed in a wetsuit, from his toes to his bean!
Where on Earth did he score all that red neoprene?
A drybag of goodies he had flung on his back.
And he looked like a portager hitting the track.
He was chubby and plump — ‘twould have been an annoyancy,
for an amphibious deity to lack positive buoyancy;
His hull shape was round and “softer” in chine,
and the beard of his chin was white with dried brine.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his chores,
And filled all the sea-socks (and dripped on the floors);
And laying a pogie atop of his lid,
And giving a nod, down the launch ramp he slid.
He sprang to his boat, blew a Fox-40 whistle
and away they all sailed, like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere they did skidaddle:
“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a safe paddle!”