One last weekend

One last weekend

Pulled from summer’s grasp into the chilly hands of fall

Our gear, gathered from the jumble of adventures past, rejoices to venture forth just one more time

The lake, discovered by friends who camped there first and generously shared the story of its wild, empty shores

The surge on windy crests of white to find our home, where some good soul has left us firewood beneath a tiny roof of birchbark

Dreams of swimming lie buried under wooly hats and added layers and we scramble over jumbled rocks to a woodland trail instead

A garter snake, like us, seems unwilling to surrender the feisty warmth of summer and defends his trail with fierce tenacity until we slip away

Hotdogs drip, above the glowing coals, beneath the toasting buns, and we eat with gusto

Later, the wind has calmed and water gently laps the shore. Does it dream of summer’s radiance or long for peaceful snowbound sleep?

In quiet unity, we write, we draw, we scoot ever closer to the living glow that wrestles with the icy night, as stars emerge

Dawn pulls us from the best of sleep, as crazy, restless calls surround our narrow point. Then, paddling out, the echoes become a bouncing dot of black and white, a loon to say farewell until summer comes again.

(by Laurie Chandler, Tunk Lake, Maine, September 2016)






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Summing it up – 35 days aboard the Rotterdam

Well, it wasn’t the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, that’s for sure.  I think you’d agree , though, that I am a look-on-the-bright-side kind of person and the cruising life has more than its share of bright sides.

Here are my top ten…

10. The carpet in the elevators changes daily and tells you what day of the week it is. (Not that it matters, because there is NO WORK)

9. The amazing, caring, friendly crew

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The Filipino and Indonesian crew members each held a daytime show featuring their country’s music, dance and traditional dress. Rehearsals were done on their own time, often late at night after working a full and tiring day. Our wine steward turned out to be an accomplished singer and our assistant dining room steward played a mean bass guitar.

8. Swimming when the pool has ocean waves surging from one end to the other in rough seas

7. Rediscovering reading as a means of gleaning information

6. For example, learning about fulmars, which accompanied us for days at sea. I had identified them from my birds of Europe book, but found a great book on the Arctic in the ship’s library. Breeding season finds fulmars in isolated cliff colonies, where the female lays a single egg on the bare cliff, then incubates it for a long 2 months. Potential predators are attacked by vomiting a noxious stomach oil on them, which impedes flying and ruins the insulating properties of the feathers.

5. The art on the ship

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On the Rotterdam, works of art await discovery all around the ship.

 

4. Crossing the Arctic Circle

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My official certificate brings back fond memories of the evening we spent watching the GPS as we approached the Arctic Circle, that imaginary line of latitude above which there is at least one day each of total darkness and total light every year.

 

3. Passing the final resting place of the HMS Hood, sunk May 24, 1941 in the Battle of the Denmark Strait. The captain sounded a somber, respectful signal as we gazed out over the ocean, empty except for the memories.

 

Declared a war grave by the British government, the HMS Hood lies 9,200 feet below. Only 3 sailors survived the sinking.

 

2. The large, colorful atlas takes on new meaning when you are on its pages.

1. Walking the promenade deck to work off all those Belgian waffles

So, farewell Vikings, at least until we can return to Newfoundland to visit the settlement that was located there, not so far after all from Maine!