i recently finished reading Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund and loved being lost in that seafaring world. snuggled by the fire with my cats on these cold november nights, i've also been cabin boy, lighthouse keeper, reluctant whaler, ferryboat passenger and captain's wife.
i love the waterways of the early days of America. in the first half of the 19th century traveling overland for long distances was not considered; you traveled by steamboat! soooo romantic. boats and ships provided every possible link to the world outside america, whether industry, communication, transportation or trade. captains were like god on the sea, the rivers, the lakes, the land.
traveling by water makes sense to me; you are still connected to the earth, the ebb and flow, directed by the connecting powers of land, sky, and human hand. i wish the world would slow down. i wish we still had to plan out days worth of travel by river to visit long distance friends. i would stitch quilts and watch the water along the way. buoyed by water, floating and flowing and rolling with waves, watched by the moon.
i've always been fascinated by stories of women sailing around the world (like Tania Abei, the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe solo, read Maiden Voyage)
also...women lighthouse keepers. for years, as a kid, that was my dream job. i didn't realize yet that it was already obsolete.
i used to sit in Point Reyes Lighthouse at the little desk and meditate on living there. it is the windiest point along the pacific coastline. you are in a whirlwind of wind and mist and fog and ocean spray. whales may go by, dolphins or pelicans. if you tended the light, you would polish each delicate panel of the Fresnel lens so it could beam its vibrant light twenty four miles out to sea. you would carry milk in wooden buckets from the dairy farm. you would record the sights and sounds into a massive logbook with miniature lines. you would light oil lamps and wind the clockwork and trim the wicks and climb the wooden stairs, crawling against the wind.
it makes me sad that lighthouses are all automated now. a lost life of connection, strength, endurance, vigor and devotion. not surprising that these are values that we are losing sight of on a larger scale.
woman staring at sea here
big oceans in my heart as the seasons change. colder nights mean daydreaming, hibernating, making plans and storing up.
the words that fill my soul are driftwood, scrimshaw, rigging, shanty, mermaid, gale.