June 15-27, 1976
Blog Entry #14
Granted Reindeer hadn't been at sea for forty days and nights (even though it felt like it). Granted we didn't have any land birds on board our ark (unless you count some crew members attempts at humor). Granted we had not shot any birds for our unfavorable conditions either. And, of course, Reindeer wasn't ever mistakened for a fairy tale, myth or metaphor...a little out of place, unfamiliar and odd, maybe, but not something from a poet's, director's or devout Christian's imagination. While Reindeer was real, it is sometimes humans' limited perspective coupled with superstition, fantasy or imagination that creates their "reality."
It didn't matter that Reindeer felt seaworthy; it had been a week since we had disembarked from St. John's, Newfoundland. Even though the crew had to be eager for landfall after so much rough weather, the crew always looked for signs of life and land. I know I found some solace in signs of sea life everywhere out in the ocean. Especially in the winged variety that frequented our skies. Fulmars, kittiwakes, skuas, petrels, gulls, gannets, terns, pomarine jaegers, puffins, black guillemots, razorbills and shearwaters often appeared performing acrobatic, gravity-defying maneuvers over the waves, floating in rafts or nesting in the seaside cliffs. Newbold frequently referred to the various and abundant bird life in the ship's log and in his book Down Denmark Strait. I even quoted his fascination with the gannet in my second blog entry about this transatlantic voyage.
As seafarers, we discover birds often provide valuable information and inspiration. For me, more often than not, birds were and still remain to this day, a fascinating and a welcome distraction.
Maybe it is because I wish I could fly....and fly as effortlessly. After all, birds look like they are such fun gliding and soaring even in the midst of stormy winds.
|A cliff a few hundred feet high, home to hundreds of puffins, at the entrance to |
Heimaey's harbor off the southern coast of Iceland.