This whale has been here for a week or so. The good folks of Fisheries and Wildlife have been monitoring it for signs of distress. It seems the local gray population has been undernourished, possibly due to climate change and it’s effect on availability of krill–on which these majestic creatures feed. The important work on my libretto has been sidetracked by several factors: this elderly gray, the immanent seal birthing season, and a group of clueless youth harrassing pregnant seals with a volley of rocks from a skiff. All this stress reaches a fevered pitch this time of year, when the birthing season of local species interfaces with Summer Yahoos bent on pleasure in its multifaceted allurements.
These developments will not distract from my most pressing task–the creation of the opera. Stay tuned for the next chapter in which Drumph drafts a brilliant memo–a work of awesome fictive power–explaining his justification for Comey’s firing.
The 30 mile passage from Port Madison to Port Townsend is marked by the doleful names of voyages that came to grief on the Salish Sea. It is the saga of sunken tin-pot steamers who plied the vertiginous depths of Admiralty Inlet and now lie some fathoms deep among the fouled chain of time and memory. The place names along the first leg of Old Hand’s forth-coming voyage to the San Juan Islands bear testament to historic, tortured founderings: Point no Point, Skunk Bay and Foulweather Bluff.
Perhaps the names are meant as caution to jaded yatchies who, besotted by the mirror calm of the convergence zone and assured by their virtual, abstract trajectories, sail blithely on over the sun-dappled main while toasting a lowering Margarita sky. What are these names but vague appellations foor that stubborn tyranny of tide and rock that mark this bewitchingly placid and, by turns, malevolent stretch of sea? And what are all our errant eastings, leewardings and embarkations but the the soul’s recurrent flight into the dream time–the Homeric drive by which all voyages are undertaken–and part of the eternal, unquenchable drive toward the further, mythic shore.
My plan is to sail with the new September moon toward a not-too-adventurous landfall in the San Juan Islands and there to blithely hang amid the encantadas of the north; to seek, to groove, to go where no green lubber has gone before, that my soul might find solace, inspiration and release.
Who knows? Maybe even that old Miphisto of the sea, that horn-fisted coot with the line-squall scowl might loom again in the night, his gaunt profile etched against the thundering flash of doomsday. For none but Saturnius McWhirr can skipper Old Hand proper. None but he can set the serpentine track of this labored narrative on a course that is steady and true.
I’ve been anchored in Port Hadlock for 5 days. Actually, after being pinned down here so long I’ve come to think of it as Port Headlock. As soon as I start to haul in rode, a sound rises from the far north, a deep rush of sound that gives me pause, and my hand is stayed from weighing anchor.
Since the Equinox, the weather has taken a nasty turn, with savage gusts from the Austral quarter of this turbid globe cast into the swirling cosmos. After long, night-watches, I see the gale steam the weather-glass a frenzied, vaporous scene of genesis. The glass is the vessel which holds the primordial spark and the damp, hylic goo of the Prima Materia in a seething, Hylic confluence. The torn north hangs rain-slanted like a black curtain fallen over the final act of a Doric sea tragedy.
Like I said, it was a nasty storm with gusts to 70. But now I pace the deck and see over the port beam, young men learning the old shipwright’s trade at the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building. A vessel went by that’s based on the old longboat design of Vancouver’s rowing/sailing launch and skipered by a young, pretty lass who calls from the bow with all the assurance of an old salt. Does my heart good to see the old tradition of working sail carried on by such eager hands.