SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
July 24, 2015
Kanton Island, Lagoon
Blue is her color
Blue is the color of the woman who controls the winds,
The winds that blow fiercely, churning the midnight blue waves that crash the bow,
The bow that splits the midnight waters from the sapphire blue sky that is the canvas of the winds,
The winds that bring her tales of wonder past the twinkling stars,
The stars that shine their light on both her and me,
Me who looks out over the wide, separating expanse, thinking about the woman whose color is blue.
For those of you reading this who know me, you know I am not generally a person to start something with a poem; however, it is very easy to romanticize what we are doing on this voyage. From the wind and weather, to work under the sun, maritime tales, and the thrill of science, everything is worth doing, worth remembering.
Today especially was an experience I am sure none of us on the Robert C. Seamans will ever forget. I will try to paint the picture for you. An hour or two after noon, we began ferrying people from the ship to the village where the 25 inhabitants of Kanton live. We congregated in a low ceilinged pavilion that functions as their Protestant Church, sitting and talking and wondering what the celebration would bring. The smell of the small fire and the food mixed with tobacco and the scent of roughly 60 people who had spent their day in a hot island sun. We were greeted warmly, as warm a reception as I've ever been given, and the men who stood up to address us and thank us for coming never stopped smiling.
They began by dancing for us (I won't try to describe the outfit, look at the pictures), and then followed that up by powerful singing. They were songs that came from the whole community and reminded you what music is really for. They included us in their dancing, giving us flower circlets, shell necklaces, and encouraging us to have fun and join in. The energy was infectious. Eventually it was time for food, food that was caught, killed, and cooked in preparation to share this meal with us.
Everything I tried was delicious: there were crabs, eel, one of their own pigs they killed, different kinds of fish, coconuts, giant clams, and a few things I really had no idea about. More dancing and singing ensued after the meal; we even got together and performed the Mingulay Boat Song as a crew for the people of Kanton. There were long goodbyes, handshakes, hugs, and a final group picture before we began walking back down the road to where our boats would pick us up.
We have one more night in the lagoon before we get under way again. Being here on Kanton was an amazing experience, one that opened my eyes to a whole new way of living and interacting with the world. I hope that this blog can begin to give you an idea of what we saw, but I know that when we get back and are able to tell all of you with our own words what happened you will be blown away.
With love and excitement,