Saturday, November 29, 2008

Simply Grateful

Nothing like a walk (or a surf!) on Good Harbor Beach to take the stress out of preparing a Thanksgiving Feast.

It is very difficult not to take a real look around and be grateful for the beauty of Cape Ann and its community.

Simply Grateful!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Simply Wingaersheek Thinking

The weather forecast for Cape Ann appears rather bleak for this weekend. Here are a few pictures from last weekend to hopefully brighten your days.

Once again, I am showing these pictures as both a digital capture and a "rendered painting".

Be sure to click on each pair of images to see the larger versions.

First pair is called "Rock Pillar".

Next pair is called "Yacht Club Through The Porthole"

The final pair is called "Wingaersheek Vista".

Simply Wingaersheek Thinking


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Simply Red Boats

A peaceful time spent at the Boat Landing in the Jones River Watershed provided me a opportunity to watch these four red rowboats dancing in the tide.

As always, clicking on an image will display a larger version.

An excerpt from Nine Horses by Billy Collins.

We are busy doing nothing—
and all we need for that is an afternoon,
a rowboat under a blue sky,

and maybe a man fishing from a stone bridge,
or, better still, nobody on that bridge at all.

An excerpt from The New Freedom by Woodrow Wilson.

What it liberty? You say of the locomotive that it runs free. What do you
mean? You mean that its parts are so assembled and adjusted that friction
is reduced to a minimum, and that it has perfect adjustment. We say of a
boat skimming the water with light foot, "How free she runs," when we
mean, how perfectly she is adjusted to the force of the wind, how
perfectly she obeys the great breath out of the heavens that fills her
sails. Throw her head up into the wind and see how she will halt and
stagger, how every sheet will shiver and her whole frame be shaken, how
instantly she is "in irons," in the expressive phrase of the sea. She is
free only when you have let her fall off again and have recovered once
more her nice adjustment to the forces she must obey and cannot defy.

Human freedom consists in perfect adjustments of human interests and
human activities and human energies.

An excerpt from First you have to row a little boat by Richard Bode.

I sat in the center of the dinghy, facing the stern, my destination somewhere behind me, a landfall I couldn’t see. I had to judge where I was headed from where I had been, an acquired perception which has served me well --- for the goals of my life, and especially my work, haven’t always been visible points of light on a shore that looms in front of me. They are fixed in my imagination, shrouded and indistinct, and I detect them best when my eyes are closed. All too often I am forced to move toward them backward, like a boy in a rowboat, guiding myself by a cultivated inner sense of direction which tells me I’m on course, tending toward the place I want to be.

Simply Red Boats


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Simply Painting Wingaersheek

Robert Frost wrote in Mending Wall that "something there is that doesn't love a wall". A corollary might be "something about an ocean makes people stare into it". A walk along the shoreline at Wingaersheek Beach gave me the opportunity to witness many people with this "affliction", myself included.

I mistakenly thought that "Wingaersheek", like so many other names of locations in New England was Native American in origin. Yet, the United States Geological Survey describes "Wingaersheek" in this manner on its GNIS website.

Name described by Professor Trumbull as "not Indian" but stated by Professor E. N. Horsford to be "an undoubted corruption of the German (Low Dutch) name, "Wyngaerts Hoeck", which occurs on many maps between 1630 and 1670, especially in Ogilby's "America." Wyngaert's Hoeck was derived from Wyngaerton (Vineland) (BGN Files). Also called Coffins Beach for Peter Coffin whose farm was located alongside this beach (MGB 1932).

Regardless of its derivation, we are surely blessed by its beauty. I've shown my images today in two ways. The first image of each is the digital capture. The second is a "painting render" of the same image.

Be sure to click on each pair of images to see the larger versions.

First two images are called "Family At Play".

These two are called "Soul Searching".

These last two are called "Squam Light".

Simply Painting Wingaersheek


Simply Sleepy Jones

Sunday was quite nice for an afternoon in November. I stopped at the Jones River Boat Landing and watched the tide leaving boats stranded. This is a quiet spot often overlooked by so many as they rush by to get to Wingaersheek Beach.

A few lines from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Day after day, day after day
We stuck, nor breath, nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

Simply Sleepy Jones


Simply Unclear

It was a foggy morning in Gloucester this past Saturday. The clouds hung low in the sky most of the day. Although City Hall is now undraped, it is still trying to hide from sight.

Even with the fog, there are colors for all to see as these boats rest in their slips.

It is difficult to see where the water stops and the sky begins. Hopefully, the two captains can see each other.

East Gloucester is completely socked in.

Look how still the water is. Reflections are everywhere.

Down on the Annisquam, a houseboat hides in the fog.

For more pictures of Gloucester in the fog, visit Jay Albert's Cape Ann Images and see what a true master can do with a camera.

My pictures are Simply Unclear.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Simply Martin's Dream

The election cycle is over for this year, although I have already started to see hints of it starting up again. I know that the end of elections always results in one side feeling elated and while the other feels dejected. In the past, however, each side tended to be more civil towards each other, most likely because sharing an opinion or expressing a view required doing it in person. This has not been as true during the last few elections.

One of the advantages that the Internet and blogs provide is the ability to quickly and easily share opinions. However, this is also one its detriments. A number of the local blogs that I read are now being filled with postings from gloating winners and sore losers. There continues to be much vitriol and name-calling expressed on both sides. I sincerely doubt that this would be the case if the posters were speaking in person. Although, if they were discussing the issues over a cup of coffee, I would hope that the cups had lids on to prevent undue splashings!

Please do not take this in any manner as a suggestion that access or opinion sharing should be restricted or controlled. I believe highly in the "switch the channel" mode of operating. If you do not like what you are hearing, reading or watching, change the channel, turn the TV / radio off, go to a different blog, etc.

I find myself doing that today. Skipping blogs and websites. Looking for something to read or hear that I've missed or overlooked.

Today, when jumping around some of the Cape Ann websites and blogs, I landed in Peter Todd land. I've mentioned Peter's poetry in the past but had missed this one. I hope you enjoy it.

Colors United Martin’s Dream
By Peter Todd

We search for colors to see
Such as the ocean’s and the hue of Liberty
There is still one outstanding color
That represents life and humans such as we
That of the color of blood Jesus shed
On that dark day that represents inhumanity
We see the color of purple its stature grand
Within the color Yellow of earths sand
Brown, Black, Red and Tan in Martin’s dream
United skins of colors of our Creator’s land
You see Martin dream is God’s reality
For all of his children bleed the same as he
Our Savior died on Faith’s Calvary’s tree
Lift up your voices high and pray to the Lord
Martin’s dream in truth reveals
Hatred of indifference is of the Devil’s sword
Poetry is the Vision of the Soul through the spirit of one’s soul

Simply Martin's Dream


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Simply Selkie!

I received an extensive comment on one of my recent postings. Knowing that many skip the comments (or perhaps, do not even know they are there to read), I am taking the liberty of reposting it and adding in a few links.

Thank you "anonymous"!

Simply Selkie


I found some copy about the great Selkie on Orkneyjar, and several other blogs. Judy Collins sang it, and Jean Ritchie, and several other wonderful folksingers who love ballads. It's in Child's Ballads, which I have here somewhere in my overcrowded messy room we call an office.

The copy below I took directly from the Orkneyjar site. There's a great discussion of the sealskin myth called "Sealskin, Soulskin" in Women who Run with the Wolves. I also checked some of the links on the Orkneyjar site; it turns out that the selkie myth comes from north of Norway, the Saami folk, the Finn folk--my people. How about that? The sealskin myth is all about homecoming--it would seem following links on a website sometimes takes you home, too. For all you seal-loving folks out there.

The Great Selkie o' Suleskerry

The Great Selkie o' Suleskerry - or Grey Selkie of Suleskerry, as it is also known - is one of Orkney's best-known and most haunting ballads.

It was first written down in 1938 by one Dr Otto Andersson, who had heard the song sung on the island of Flotta.

It recounts the tale of a young Orcadian maiden who falls in love with an elusive selkie-man. She has a child by him but, shortly after, the selkie-man disappears, leaving her alone with her baby son.

Some years later the maiden comes across a grey seal by the shore. The seal says to her:

"I'm a man upon the land, I'm a selkie in the sea; and when I'm far frae every stand, my dwelling is in Suleskerry."

She realises the creature before her is none other than her selkie lover, but he once again vanishes beneath the waves, only to return again seven years later. After giving his son a golden chain, the boy leaves his mother and goes with father to the sea.

The woman marries and some time later, when her husband is out hunting, he shoots two seals - one old and grey, the other younger. Around the neck of the young seal was a gold chain, which the hunter takes home to give his wife.

Upon receiving the gift she realises her son is dead.

Some of the verses of the ballad are still remembered in the islands but the tune was very nearly lost. As with all folk ballads there are various versions.

The Great Selkie o' Suleskerry

Version 1

I heard a mother lull her bairn,
and aye she rocked, and aye she sang.
She took so hard upon the verse
that the heart within her body rang.

"O, cradle row, and cradle go,
and aye sleep well, my bairn within;
I ken not who thy father is,
nor yet the land that he dwells in."

And up then spake a grey selchie
as aye he woke her from her sleep,
"I'll tell where thy bairn's father is:
he's sittin' close by thy bed feet.

"I am a man upon the land;
I am a selchie on the sea,
and when I'm far frae ev'ry strand,
my dwelling is in Sule Skerry.

"And foster well my wee young son,
aye for a twal'month and a day,
and when that twal'month's fairly done,
I'll come and pay the nourice fee."

And when that weary twal'month gaed,
he's come tae pay the nourice fee;
he had ae coffer fu' o' gowd,
and anither fu' o'the white money.

"Upon the skerry is thy son;
upon the skerry lieth he.
Sin thou would see thine ain young son,
now is the time tae speak wi' he."

"But how shall I my young son know
when thou ha' ta'en him far frae me?"
"The one who wears the chain o' gowd,
`mang a' the selchies shall be he.

"And thou will get a hunter good,
and a richt fine hunter I'm sure he'll be;
and the first ae shot that e'er he shoots
will kill baith my young son and me."

The Great Selkie o' Suleskerry

Version 2

In Norway land there lived a maid,
'Hush bee loo lillie' this maid began;
'I know not where my baby's father is,
Whether by land or sea he does travel in.'

It happened on a certain day
When this fair lady fell fast asleep,
That in cam' a good greay selchie
And set him down at her bed feet,

Sayin' 'Awak, awak, my pretty maid,
For oh, how sound as thou dost sleep!
An' I'll tell thee where thy baby's father is-
He's sittin' close at thy bed feet!'

'I pray, come tell to me thy name,
Oh, tell me where does thy dwelling be?'
'My name it is good Hein Mailer
An' I earn my livin' oot o' the sea.

I am a man upo' the land,
I am a selchie in the sea,
And when I'm far frae every strand
My dwellin' is in Sule Skerrie.'

'Alas, alas, this woeful fate!-
This weary fate that's been laid for me,
That a man should come from the Wast o' Hoy
To the Norway lands to have a bairn wi' me!'

'My dear, I'll wed thee with a ring,
With a ring, my dear, I'll wed with thee.'
'Thoo may go wed thee weddens wi' whom thoo wilt,
For I'm sure thoo'll never wed none wi' me!'

'Thoo wilt nurse my little wee son
For seven long years upo' thy knee,
An' at the end o' seven long years
I'll come back and pay the norish fee.'

Now he had ta'en a purse of guld
And he has put it upon her knee,
Saying 'Gi'e to me my little young son,
And take thee up thy nourrice fee.'

She says 'My dear, I'll wed thee wi' a ring,
Wi' a ring, my dear, I'll wed wi' thee!'
Thoo may go wed these [thee's] weddens wi' whom thoo wilt,
For I'm sure thoo'll never wed none wi' me!

But I'll put a gold chain around his neck
An' a gey good gold chain it'll be,
That if ever he comes to the Norway lands
Thoo may have a gey good guess on he,

An' thoo will get a gunner good,
An' a gey good gunner it will be,
An' he'll gae oot on a May mornin'
An' shoot the son an' the grey selchie.'

Oh, she has got a gunner good,
An' a gey good gunner it was he,
An' he went out on a May mornin'
An' he shot the son and the grey selchie.

(When the gunner returned from his expedition he showed the Norway woman the gold chain he had found round the neck of a young seal, and a final verse expresses her grief):

Alas, alas this woeful fate
This weary fate that's been laid for me.'
And once or twice she sobbed and sighed,
An' her tender heart did brak' in three.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Simply Gazing

The page on the calendar flipped to November this weekend and almost on cue the winds on Cape Ann turned to the north. Even the ocean changed into her winter garb with its darker, sparkling blue hues. This was not a day for sitting on the desolate beach at Plum Cove. Not to worry, though, since the beach-goers will all be back after just a few, long months of winter.

I continued my travels clockwise around Cape Ann and planned on meeting a close friend in Lanesville. As is normally my way, I was early. I stopped at Lanes Cove and watched a few folks prepping their boats for the winter. Two were out on the breakwater trying to catch fish. It will take a little more than a wind from the north to stop these two!

For more information about Laneville and Lanes Cove, visit On the Cove and keep an eye on their webcam to see if the two catch anything.

We left Lanesville and made the long, arduous trek (okay, the short, 5 minute drive) to Halibut Point State Park in Rockport. Halibut Point State Park is the site of the former Babson Farm granite quarry and is maintained jointly by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Trustees of Reservations.

The weather had become slightly warmer as the wind died down and clocked to the northeast. We walked along the worn paths at Halibut Point, gazed into tidal pools, and clambered over giant slabs of granite, all the while taking in the ocean vistas of farway places. The juncos were out scurrying around and we were even graced by a quick glimpse of a seal as he passed by the point. My friend wished she could remember the words to the song that calls the seals in closer. (Naturally, if I were to sing the song, they would be swimming as quickly as possible towards Nova Scotia!)

Perhaps it was the coolness of the granite, or the emptiness of a place which was once bustling with the lives and noises of stone cutters, but I drifted into my own quietness. Times like this, I listen more than talk which can make it difficult to have a conversation. I'm blessed to have friends that will wade through my quiet times with me.

The only other animal I saw was a bear resting on the rocks. This was the only picture I captured while at Halibut Point. I'll take more next time. If you look real close and click on the picture to enlarge it, you may also be able to see the bear.

I've touched up the image and painted in the bear's head to make it more visible. Shhhh! Don't wake up the bear!

Thanks again for a wonderful walk, Anne. Will this song call in the seals?

by Jean Redpath

A sea maid sings on yonder reef
The spell bound seals draw near
A lilt that lures beyond belief
Mortals enchanted hear

Coir an oir an oir an oir o
Coir an oir an oir an eer o
Coir an oir an oir an ee lalyuran
Coir an oir an oir an eer o

The wandering ploughman halts his plough
The maid her milking stays
And sheep on hillside, bird on bough
Pause and listen in amaze

Was it a dream? Were all asleep?
Or did she cease her lay?
For the seals with a splash dive into the deep
And the world goes on again
Yet lingers the refrain

Simply gazing.