Posts Tagged With: blogging
Last June I had the good fortune to land a job at at the Dogfish Bay Marina. Aside from sweeping the docks, parking lot and the endless chores, I found myself cast in the role of a sort of ambassador between the human and the pinniped populations. I experienced the trauma of a seal pup, abandoned by it’s mother, slowly die from starvation.
Seals must get a firm scent at birth in order to establish contact. Immediately after birth, the mother clasps her newborn by the nape of the neck in order to get the scent. If this process is interrupted, the mother fails to establish the link which allows her to “recognize” her pup. Through the interference of a well-meaning child, this process was interrupted, and the mother let her offspring starve. After the poor pup’s demise, she haunted the dock near where her pup had hauled out on the low swim-step of a speedboat; her eyes streaming with tears.
For ages, seals have emanated an aura of magic. In the Celtic stories of the Selkies, a hunter, on a quest for worldly riches, is summoned into the depths by a shape-shifting, seal messenger of Lachlann’s undersea Kingdom. After a lengthy stay, the hero returns to terra firma transformed by his experience–a wiser, more compassionate being. His cruel, rapacious heart is softened by his ordeal and he emerges a changed man; one who has seen the depths of profound reality below the selfish preoccupations with material gain. Such a visitation by the Selkie heralds an epiphany– an awareness of our deep relatedness with all creation.
Among Northwest tribes, seal people played a role as emissary of their guardian King, Komokwa, in the winter Tseteka–shaman–dances where supernatural beings came from the spirit world to initiate the young into the dancing societies. A seal conducted the novice into the submarine world where, after a period of fasting and prayer, he returned to the tribe in a canoe laden with a wealth of copper, to found a new lineage which was then honored in the dancing houses.
By day, the lumbering hulks of seals lounge on the docks. One night, I saw a flash of green phosphorescence as the seals sped below the surface of Dogfish Bay. These mercurial denizens of the deep bridge the yawning divide between the conscious and unconscious energies, and guide the seeker into timeless mysteries where shadowy beings lie below the reflective surface of the sea. Their uncanny visitations shake up our smug assumptions of human supremacy and herald a new awareness based in feeling, compassion, and illumined by the transfiguring light of dreams.
This is my first post telling of my experience as pinniped ambassador, documenting scientific observation, and evoking the mythology of seals. I hope my blog is informative as well as therapeutic. After the traumatic death of Bobby last Summer, I wish to be better prepared to deal with all the many, tragi-comic aspects of the birthing season.
“To the Toer wharf,” said McWhirr.
With indomitable energy, Rubio peddled his bicak and sang Unchained Melody for all he was worth. For reason I’ve yet to fathom, Indonesians consider the Righteous Brothers to be the apex of musical accomplishment. We soon arrived at the dock to see a steamship being loaded by scrawny Malays carrying heavy sacks of rice. She was an absurdly stout vessel of Victorian pedigree, whose small wheelhouse perched on her coach roof like a petite hat on a frumpy, lady dowager. On the ornate paddle boxes were emblazoned the words: The East India Company. The thick cloud issuing from her smokestack showed she was building up a head of steam for immanent departure.
“It is thou, O river, who judges man’s judgment… O river of sanctuaries. ..O river of light…”
We piled in the skiff and I rowed toward a dilapidated pierhead while McWhirr continued his narration.
“My grandfather also told a darker tale. He said the streets of old Batavia were paved with sorrow, the walls built with the grief of mothers who toiled over an illusory harvest, it’s ramparts manned by desiccated souls who invested all their goods in the virtual fun-house of Mammon.“
Rubio brought us to the crumbling, neo-classical facade and we passed through the weathered teak door into the club. While McWhirr ordered a couple pints I looked around. A Strawberry Alarm clock tribute band blasted onstage.
Soon McWhirr came with the drinks and said: “Here’s to the Queen.”
I picked up a battered book lying on the table and read:
–And it came to pass that a great swarm of splog descended upon the land and the
soundcloud was darkened with idle slander and empty promises of sensual delights. Worshippers of the true faith were subjected to the false blandishments of priests and the perfidious purveyors of illusory commerce. And the once mighty creatives of the realm looked upon their followers and found naught of artistic merit and grew heavy in spirit, seeing therein ought but Jezebelian allurements by comely maids in unseemly attitudes of licentious repose–
“Ya really read that BS? “
Asked his mate in a voice that sounded hollow and grating-like 50 fathoms of hause-fouled chain.
I’d heard of the splog pirates, but thought them mere paranoid tales by rummy tars around the fo’c’sle stove. And now here they were, as big as life, waylaying the earnest efforts of my myself and my literary colleagues like the nefarious ship wreckers luring unwary vessels with false
lights on the storm-wracked coast of Cornwall.
I continued reading:
-The once proud sites of the righteous became barren wastes of vacuous splogs and brazen images of bouncing titties–
“Maybe there is something to it after all,” says McWhirr.
“Aye, Captain. And look what we have now in this rank grog-shop of the internet-a foul lot of brazen cut-throats who’d just as soon steal your traffic as say how-do-ye-do.”
One such galoot, a skanky brigand with a striped shirt and cutlass, approached the bar next to McWhirr with the slithery movement of a wolf eel saying:
“Eh mates, stand us a pint.”
I hastened to intervene.
“My good sir, may I introduce Saturnius Machirr?”
At this, the miscreant grew pale as an albino beluga and withdrew with an obsequeous bow.
“Most honored to meet you.”
Came the loud scratchy blare of loudspeakers over the still anchorage.
“Ilaha illa allah…”
I rose disgruntled and ascended the companionway to see McWhirr standing on deck, still in his black watch coat despite the fast-
rising heat. His normally stark, grim profile appeared transformed by the dawn light with an aura of rapturous praise.
Not wanting to disturb his meditations, I returned below and put on a pot of joseph.
After a harrowing passage through
the Sunda Strait, we’d anchored in the Sunda Kelapa harbour the night before under the tall spires of north Jakarta. I’d had a fitful sleep, and the portentous imagery of my dreams had been confounded by a blasted, bleeping racket that still echoed over the calm anchorage. Turns out we’d brought up just off the Ancol Theme Park.
McWhirr came below. I handed him a cup and ventured:
“Captain, why have we sailed into this steaming latitude?”
For indeed, it was cruel muggy and a pall of charcoal gray hung over the city.
McWhirr lit his pipe and said:
“I was but a green swab surfing the long fetch of the seven cyber-seas when I first heard of the East Indies. That was a simpler time, when a single multinational corporation called the IndiaRubber.com ruled the whole archipelago. Now it’s dog eat dog, with upstart pirates trying to challenge the Dutch spice monopoly and their quasi-governmental powers by fair means or foul.”
“But take care son,” he said darkly, “one word from the Dutch, colonial CEO and we could be standing before a firing squad before you can say: Garcia Lorca.”