Chapter Three

The first week saw him though reasonable weather and relatively calm seas. The nights were mostly clear and the moon was bright. He could not honestly remember a time when […]

The first week saw him though reasonable weather and relatively calm seas. The nights were mostly clear and the moon was bright. He could not honestly remember a time when he had such huge masses of ice this far South. It was as if the winter was now constant, and he could see far off icebergs glowing in the moonlight at night. It was cold…. shockingly cold… He was thinking that adding several inches of thick nap of hair to his beard and head over the last year had actually turned out the be very good idea, and at some point it felt like he had twenty pounds of ice frozen to his beard. The thought of his own brilliance made him laugh to himself…
“Ahhh, yes indeed!! You are so smart Chief… and HAIRY… hahahahaha that is some fine hair you have there, laddie… it makes a fine Christmas tree… maybe squirrels will raise a family in there and they will bring you nuts… Nothing like some nice warm nuts in your mouth!!! GRRRRRrrrr… hahaha”
It had been some time since he had made himself laugh. It felt good.
Winds were steady in the morning and his sails popped and cracked and the keel below the oak maiden cut through the layers of ice and salt water. It was a welcome sound. He realized he had sorely missed the groaning of the mast as the sail filled with air. There was really no sound like it. It was the sailor’s song, and those who had never experienced it for themselves, never really understood while the sea always called the sailor back again and again. There is something magical about the simple things in this world. It is always the common moments that touch our hearts. Most people miss that. Often times all it takes is an unexpected quiet second for the most wonderful things to reveal themselves. There was no shortage of quiet. The only sound he was aware of was the wind and his own lungs replacing air. A light snow fell, and he marveled that when the snow is light and soft it does not make a sound when it falls. You can actually see the flakes as they slowly descend and disappear into the sea. He wondered how far they had fallen from where they we created in the clouds… and what an amazing thing that is… He stuck out his tongue from within his icy beard and caught several snowflakes on the warm wetness there, and the cold made him shiver and he shook his face and ice and snow flew from his frozen hair. In that moment he thought to himself that he had at some point transformed into a sled dog…
The winds become light the next day, and then stopped blowing all together. The sea was flat, with barely a ripple… and it was so quiet. Like the inside of a tomb. Breakfast was a handful of jerky and flat biscuits that he had purchased in the market some weeks back. Those days before the journey seemed to be a thousand years ago. And he could not remember one single face from the village. He supposed his absence would not even be noticed.
The sails were collected and lashed down and the ancient oak oars were unstowed from below the packs. Once set in the brass gunnels, they eagerly dug into the salt water as the hairy man in the furry bear coat leaned his creaking back. His callused hands dug into the aged wood and his legs braced, and it felt good. His muscles welcomed the strain and his joints began to pop and snap and free themselves, and after a few moments he felt warm inside his coat for what seemed like the first time in ages. And he listened to the push of the oars of the water, and the creaking of the old boat, and it was peaceful.

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