Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Storm Tossed





When  I am far away on the stormy ocean tossed
               ( Canada's 150th anniversary)

 The bowsprit pokes high into the night sky,
 and my schooner heels lee rail under as she
 slides away from the punch of yet another breaking wave.
This dangerous dance, day after day,
She has never missed a beat,
So far.

Far away from home, two hundred miles off Australia's east coast,
I sit on night watch and listen to my daughter's music on the headphones
while our wooden boat lies hove too in chaotic seas.
Gusting to forty knots, the terrific din of wind and waves, 
but inside my head, is the 'Great Big Sea' singing of a schooner 
like mine running before a storm in the North Atlantic.

Back home on a West Coast island, the other side of Canada
 seemed so distant it could have been on another planet. 
Here now, I listen to 'Farewell to Nova Scotia'
and hug the whole darn country, from coast to coast to coast
 as my schooner is “on the stormy ocean tossed”.

I am thinking about all those musicians who created the songs
that are singing in my ears and about the complicated step by step process 
whereby this country itself came to be:  the French and British nation
 builders who fought over land that rightfully belonged to others,
the railways that spanned the continent, that brought settlers flooding in, 
refugees themselves from poverty and oppression, seeking a new life.

Even this traditionally designed schooner has a long history behind her.
I imagine all those nameless East Coast fishermen who stood on deck
in gales like this and watched how their boats swam among the waves,
as they thought through the design of the next schooner they would build 
 to weather every storm and bring them safely home.


I stand to scan the horizon for shipping, experience the full force of the gale once again
and then settle back to music and musing about that Canada far around the curve of the earth.
We take so much for granted, our web of roads and railways, communities, health and education,
 our system of government and all those who have sacrificed their own lives to build and preserve it.
Like my ship, built carefully of many pieces from a design developed and refined over time, 
we have a country that with constant care will carry us and future generations safely home.

The wind direction has shifted at last and the moon breaks through the racing clouds. 
A few more hours of bone breaking seas and soon by morning's light we will hoist more sail,
 cast the lashing loose from the wheel and continue our voyage westward.

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