Once upon a time, on an island far to the north, there were two boats. Both were moored off a wharf called The Shed.
The big one was called Thumper because its engine thumped very loudly. Early each morning it would go out—Thump! Thump! Thump!—to get haddock, scallops, salmon, mackerel, and even small herring. Each late afternoon, as the light failed, it would Thump! Thump! Thump! its way back to the harbor with its catch. It liked to thump loudly to announce it was back.
The second boat was small and old. It didn’t have a big engine like Thumper, so it stayed on the quiet side. It was called Fogseeker.
Thumper would come back after a day of fishing, sidle along Fogseeker, and say proudly: “Look what I brought!”
Fogseeker would ask: “What did you bring, Thumper?”
Thumper would thump. “I brought lots of mackerel and salmon, Fogseeker. Thump! Thump! Thump!” Thumper would look down on the small boat and smirk: “And what did you do all day, Fogseeker?”
“I looked for fog,” said Fogseeker.
“What about fish?” asked Thumper.
“I don’t fish.”
Thumper started laughing. “Tell me, does fog feed people?”
“No,” said Fogseeker.
“Does fog make any money?”
“I don’t think so,” said Fogseeker.
“So what good is it? What good are you?”
And Thumper thumped self-importantly. Everybody knew that the only thing that mattered was fish. Haddock haddock haddock. Salmon salmon salmon. What else was there? Poor little Fogseeker, wasting her days always looking for fog. What a silly thing for a boat to do!
One day Thumper was busy fishing when the air started to thicken. Hmmm, Thumper thought. But it was still early, plenty more time to fish. Thumper fished some more, and the next time he looked up the sky was turning a thick gray. Oh oh, Thumper thought, I really should head home. But it was a good day for shrimp (it wasn’t always a good day for shrimp). Just a little more, thought Thumper, just a little more.
Finally, Thumper stopped, looked around, and said: “Where is home?” He didn’t know because around him everything had turned thick and gray. No sign of The Shed, no sign of the pier, no sign even of the sun. Thumper thumped and thumped as loud as possible, but he had no idea where to go.
Suddenly, a shape glided softly out of the mist. Thumper’s heart thumped loudly. “Fogseeker!”
The small, old boat approached and gave Thumper a friendly bump.
“Fogseeker, what are you doing here?”
“I’m home,” said Fogseeker. “I found fog! I love fog. I feel more at home here than anywhere else. What are you doing here, Thumper, are you fishing?”
“I’m lost, Fogseeker. And I’m scared because I don’t know how to find my way home.”
“Can you see me?” Fogseeker asked.
“If I stay close, I see you.”
“Then follow me.”
“But how can you see anything?” asked Thumper. “There are big and dangerous rocks out there and you’re just a little boat!”
“Trust me,” said Fogseeker. “Stay close and I’ll bring you home.”
Thumper stayed close to his little friend. He thumped loudly sometimes when he saw a sudden sandbar on which he could get stuck, or the sharp edge of a rock that peeked out of the water and which could put a big hole in him. But he stayed with Fogseeker while Fogseeker found his way in the fog, and after a long, scary time Fogseeker slowed down and finally came to a stop. Thumper looked up and there was the wharf! There was The Shed!
“We’re home!” thumped Thumper, mooring right between Fogseeker and the wooden posts of the wharf. “How did you find your way? I couldn’t see anything in that fog.”
“I think that’s because you’re always looking out for fish, so you don’t see anything else,” said Fogseeker. “I’ve been seeking fog my entire life and the fog contains everything: fish, rocks, islands, birds, other boats, winds, clouds, rain, everything.”
“I don’t see them.”
“If you’re just looking for fish, you miss everything else,” said Fogseeker. “I’m used to making my way through the mist, seeing many different shapes, but I don’t focus on them, see? I’m just looking for fog.”
“But how did you find The Shed?” asked Thumper.
“I could hear the gulls crying,” said Fogseeker. “Gulls live on the island because it has fresh water, so I just followed their cries.”
Thumper was amazed. He had been so scared of getting lost! He looked nervously at his little friend. “Do you think I should stop fishing?” Thumper asked.
“No,” said Fogseeker. “You’re a great fishing boat and you feed many people. Your job is to fish; mine is to always search for fog.”
Thumper thumped in happy relief. He gave Fogseeker a little bump. “Thanks, pal. You’re small and you don’t bring any fish home—or fog, for that matter. But you got a big heart.”
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