Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sweetgrass and Saltwater

Sweetgrass is an excellent movie about sheep herding in Montana. One particularly striking scene showed the flock on a bright green meadow, moving for all the world like a school of fish as the dogs tried to keep them moving in the right direction. The camera was located high above the flock and gradually zoomed out to show how tiny the group of sheep, dogs and one guy on horseback were in the Montana wilderness. As stunning as the scene was, it was the soundtrack that hit home. In the midst of the visual grandeur, the herder was having an all out tantrum because the sheep were trying to move up a rocky bluff where they shouldn’t go. The herder was fit to be tied, and trying to come up with stronger and more obscenities.

I have done this very thing.

Surrounded by hypnotic beauty, interacting with nature and mad enough to split in half. With me it was probably the wind, waves, my ineptitude, lack of lobsters, sore everything. Muttering sometimes, yelling myself hoarse other times. Resisting the urge to smash something. With my luck, that kind of tantrum would probably leave a big hole below the water line.

Since I’m now back in the familiar and comfortable role of sternman, the highs and lows are gone. My few traps have been undisturbed, at least by me for my two days off the Samantha J. The wind has been going and there is big towering surf from Hurricane Igor. As with Bill last year, it’s sunny from horizon to horizon, yet the destructive surge erupts over shoals I didn’t know existed and in great unzipping curls off the ends of the islands and ledges. All of the islands and shoreline are glowing at the margins, fringed in aerosolized salt water. Highway sized trails of foam extend from the lee shores of islands, rocks and ledges.

Beautiful and forbidding of a man in a small rowboat. I stay on shore and have no tantrum today.

Motive power converted from solar energy is coming to Sweet Pea in the next day or two. It will be an experiment.

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