Winter snow, winter blue sky, winter dreams.
A recent online video sparked this return trip in my head to another blue sky on an eastern high point.
Seeing a whale spout on the ocean from a nearby boat was a great thrill in my life. We were in the Bay of Fundy, sailing out from New Brunswick’s Grand Manan Island. Land of puffins and the best homemade bread in the country. As family travel goes, it was as good as it gets.
Our sailboat slowed down; fellow sailors stopped talking. To se these extraordinary creatures in their natural environment will silence most, as I wrote in my poetry collection Holding Glass.
Easy to see then why this video stood out among a rash of orca-spotting videos online. We didn’t see orcas, nor were we as close as Laguna Beach paddle boarder Rich German. He recently encountered five orcas off the California coast and shot this beautifully serene video. What rings true is quiet. It made me remember the magic.
An excerpt from my poem, Whale’s Breath
Motor off, we turn
A shout upfront.
We peer, cheeks raw,
eyes squinting from the Fundy glare.
Suddenly a belly,
beyond the bow.
great heart beating,
through wave curtains.
I feel a squeeze.
In my palm, my daughter’s hand
feels smaller, pulsing.
We are soon surrounded,
ensconced in a great mammal ring.
I sense the graceful rumbles
under our rolling feet
and strain to see a whole
but catch mere parts.
A fin spray tantalizing close
grey streaked belly heave,
wet shiny wonders.
I lean back against the stern,
listening for the low hollow rasp
of a whale’s breath.
It is a sound from a child’s toy.
A long plastic tube, once blown
emits the same strange serenade
out here as we rock in the radiant blue.
We hear it again, again, and again
amidst the splash and whip
of our humble boat.
The pod leaves us.
From Holding Glass, 2001
© Anne Langford