Sep 11, 2006


More out of sequence notes:

Your dream (if that's what it was) of being lured to the lair of an elf  with kaleidoscope eyes reminded me of a conversation I had with F.S. Whinkla a year or so ago. He had strolled down from his nest to bring me a few bottles of his four-year-old Dandelion/Sage wine. I say strolled for that is exactly what he had done, taking three days to cover the few miles. Anyway, he said the wine was at a perfect state of equilibrium and should be sipped immediately. I grabbed a bagette and we wandered off to the Buddha garden with two crystal goblets and an entire afternoon of uncommitted hours. Somehow we got to talking about oceans, and sailing, and when I mentioned storms and ship wrecks I noticed a spark, like the striking of Dover flint against Pittsburgh steel, flash behind his eyes. "Sailing," he said with a sigh, "yes, sailing." He took more than a sip of the straw-coloured liquid in his glass and stood up, gazing toward an unseen horizon. " 'I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, and all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by' " he said, turning toward me. "That's from Sea-Fever by John Masefield, but I suppose you know it." I did, but remained silent. "Once upon a time." he continued, "I was quite a sailor, bet you didn't know that Larry. It was before I started piloting dirigibles. I'd built this boat you see, sort of a cross between an Irish coracle and an egyptian dahabeah and wanted to test its worthiness against a real adversary. So I shipped it to Ny Alesund on the north coast of Spitsbergen, that's nearly 80 degrees north latitude and proceeded to sail northeast into very bowels of darkness. It was late spring so I thought much of the pack ice would have broken up allowing reasonable passage thought I had no idea of my destination. I think I thought I could sail all the way to Ambarchik or Vankarem in Russia, or even Point Barrow. I had enough food on board to last thirty or so days, longer if necessary. You know I don't eat much, even in winter, and I had a little evaporative distillery that could make a quart or more of fresh water every day, even with minimul sunlight. I'd filled a sea chest with an extra jacket, a repair kit, sextant, an old chart of the Arctic I'd bought from a retired whaler in Tromso, and a copy of Chapman's "Terror Incognito" should I find myself becalmed, or, as I joked to the old seadogs along the quay in Ny Alesund, marooned.

1 comment:

HumanJHawkins said...

I see you finally posted again... I was just about to give up on you.