Posted by: cctracker | December 10, 2012

Man calls 14-foot canoe on Boston Harbor his home – Houston Chronicle

Every now again I meet someone who makes me question my assumptions. A canoeing buddy of mine e-mailed me this short piece on “fellow citizen” Michael Richard Smith. He’s now on that list.

Man calls 14-foot canoe on Boston Harbor his home – Houston Chronicle.

I know a lot of folks live on houseboats and I’ve lived out of a canoe for a few days at a time, but living out of your canoe for months at a time on Boston Harbor? That caught my imagination as well as my attention.

I read on.

What I liked most about the piece–and what stayed with me for a few days after I read it– was its simple, understated affirmation of human dignity. It would have been easy for a journalist to “use” Mr. Smith in a story like this, either as a backdrop for a commentary on the politics of homelessness or for the entertainment value of another homeless person’s “outrageous” take on life.

But in a few simple sentences, Bridget Murphy offers us something more.  She gives us a few touchstones to help us encounter another mysterious, unmeasurable soul rather than a topic for a story. She does mention some of the places he  parks his boat each night, but also tells us where he came from, what he really cares about. And how he came to name his boat.

At the sight of a shooting star, Murphy reports he wished all of us some self-esteem. I needed a little the day I read this. Perhaps the grace of that gift began with a story-teller who came first to meet a human being and only after that to tell the tale.



  1. Harbor Guy survived the winter

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