Vanessa had kindly offered to help me see what I had managed to record with my GoPro. She was met at the pier by Janice McDonough, director of Crowell’s Gallery with whom she was staying. As Janice and a friend were going to get their car, Vanessa walked with me to my hotel, only two blocks away. As we walked, I felt a bit wobbly in the legs, the price I paid for the many moments during the day in which I had savored the way the ship was rocking under me as we sailed. The best words I know for the wobbly sensation I felt as we took that short walk was “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking,” the title of one of Walt Whitman’s finest poems, first published on October 20, 1859, twenty days after the Charles W.. Morgan sailed out of New Bedford on its Sixth Voyage, returning in 1863 after having missed much of the American Civil War (during which Walt Whitman was to volunteer nobly as a nurse and wound dresser)..
When Vanessa hooked up my GoPro, I was delighted to see that most the extensive of the files, my climbing of the rigging and the Joee’;s tight-wire walk, seemed to have come out quite well. Vanessa had hoped to stay for the Whaling Symposium which began on Monday, June 30, at which she was scheduled to speak, but she had to fly back to London on Sunday to return to her commercial job. We made plans to meet the next day so she could transfer my GoPro images to my portable hard drive, and I was hoping to see the new paintings she was planning to complete before leaving town.
Finally I was alone after these very exciting days to Martha’s Vineyard and back. I did not have much to unpack because we had been able to take so little with us. I did have journal entries I had written and the photos I had taken to begin to sort out, but that was too much to get into tonight. Moderately tired, I walked up to Brick, a restaurant a few blocks up on Union Street. I had a glass of local beer on tap, a house salad, and one of their lovely signature pizzas hot out of their wood-fired oven (whose brick-work resembled that of the try-works on the ship). I had a young blonde waitress and I was intrigued by the ethnic diversity of her fellow workers in the kitchen as well as the counter. I asked if she would be able to identify the ethnic identity of each of these co-workers, which turned out to be more difficult than either she or I expected, so rich the mix and so diverse the origins–another measure of the diversity running through the entire New Bedford community as a direct extension of its whaling history.
On the way back from the restaurant in the dark, a bright red light in an upper window of the New Bedford Whaling Museum seemed to be sending some kind of signal. So did the luminous whale ship on the first night of its historic return to New Bedford. I can’t remember if I wrote anything new after getting back to the hotel that night. I probably just eased into that large comfortable bed quite soon after taking a long hot shower. After all of the physical and imaginative stimulation of the last two days, I was counting my blessings then, and I still am now, nine days later.