Friday, June 13, 2008

There come thoughts now

...knocking at my heart
Of the high waves, clashing salt crests I am to cross.
Mind-lust maddens, moves as I set out, soul to seek a far folk-land flood-beyond.

This is a fragment of an anonymous Old English elegy called The Seafarer, transcribed from my imperfect memory. This is more, much more: showers of frost and biting cold, and the far scream of a sea eagle echoing on dark wave-washed cliffs, the groan and rattle of the sea up the cold shingle.

It is possible to sail from Toronto to the Chesapeake Bay not via the inland canal route, but thus: through the Great Lakes, up the Saint Lawrence Seaway past Ottawa and Quebec City, out to where it widens and the whales come in from the North Atlantic, around into Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island -- Anne of Green Gables country -- around south past Halifax, across the Bay of Fundy with its twenty-foot tides, into the States at Maine, down through the islands and reaches that pepper the New England coast like edge of a curled maple leaf, Bristol, Martha's Vineyard and the boatwrights at Gannnon and Benjamin, Long Island, New Jersey, Delaware Bay, and into the warm soft Chesapeake, quiet with wading herons and the far cry of geese. In my mind it is fall.

That northern route, full of fog and whales and icebergs -- icebergs! -- exerts a powerful polar pull on me. Yes, it's possible. Yes, it's dangerous. But with the right boat...

There come thoughts now, knocking at my heart....

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