Singing lightly in Thunder Bay

May 19, 2008 at 10:07 pm | Posted in Assistant Post Mistress, Life in the snow | Leave a comment

31st January

Hanseatic staff arriving in ten mins! Glorious morning. Two penguins down on the shore have started to moult; feathers a-flutter like leaves in Autumn. Because this process renders them un-waterproof, they won’t go swimming (i.e. no food) for as long as it takes – poor them! Hide breakfast bowl behind mounds of post and the scales. Brusque start and too many Amex cards to turn down. Some sort of business person’s charter, orgainised this year by Mr Morrison of eponymous mega construction company. Paul Rose (ex BAS) films Rick for BBC website – fantastic. And one visitor becomes a Life Friend of UKAHT wowee a fine day. Nice to see tall Arne, and another German fellow (who had worked on Bass Rock for a season and hence got into the British way of tea for every occasion.) Rick and Helen walk Dave Fletcher, EL on his penultimate trip, down to the landing to wave them all off at the end. I sink into a chair with my face to the sun. Wish I could record the sounds of these Gentoos – who are also revelling in the warmth – different tones of chicks and adults. A cacophony. Sit here for a while with Rick and tea. Hear voices from around the corner of hut; yachties from Vision who’d waited til the big ship had left. New Zealanders climbing, walking and having fun. And considerate of our busy-ness. They look round everywhere smiling, buy small bits + pieces and invite us over for coffee or whatever. We decline, anticipating an afternoon on our own at last, and send them off with a surplus crate of fruit. Frank a counter-full. Conditions are ripe for a glide in kindly loaned kayak. Rick is up for it. Helen, still recuperating, sees us off from low tide rocks by the boatshed. Rick manoeuvres so I don’t get feet wet. Perfectly calm water, icy bits glistening and reflecting like diamonds, paddle dripping and churning. Happy to let Rick, in front, determine direction. We go around Bill’s and out to Boogie Island . Find a low shelving step, hop out and circumnavigate, stopping at the engraving B W Larvik 1911. Limpet shells scattered as carelessly arranged beads, sparkling. Stone warm to sit upon, whaler’s chains, rust stained surface, orange brown flakes. Two wooden posts, still there – no tide or wave in the last hundred years strong or high enough to move them. Paddle back and round, in by Jougla Point to examine the young shags on the nearside outcrops. They are flapping, brown wings growing darker. And on to Alice Creek , where Vision is moored, singing a Native American round (which Jo taught me at an event for Survival International, many moons ago) and then to inspect the information sign by the Scoresby rock (1928) that the others had noticed previously. We’re in Thunder Bay now, where there’s always a risk of calving – glide as close as we dare, swirling up glacial melt dust. Sing lightly and detect oddly oriented echoes. Radio Helen, all’s well and we’ll be home for lunch shortly. Slip back, climb out. Dine on salad, cheese and avocadoes again, yum, out on deck. Take tea and chocolate into shop for another franking session. The ‘to-do’ pile is reducing and mail sacks are bulging. I like the time to think – listening to the Gotan Project and grooving gently. Thought I’d adjusted the ink pad right, but it’s fading already, maybe merely due to the quantity of usage. Having e-mailed for hours, Rick paints the facia board, up a ladder, while cold wind whips round his neck. Helen sleeps. Eventually, at seven, I stop, after sorting the latest boxful into order. Nip out for a pee. Baby penguins curled up, many collapsed flat on stomachs, feet splayed out, wings spread wide. Rick cooks steak and onions for dinner, with carrots and butternut squash. Helen has been counting income from the previous three visits – she had been too ill until now. Eat good-humouredly. Xplore radios their arrival. Viking has moored in the channel between Goudier and Jougla, and Vision is tucked into Steve’s fav spot, but he manages to fit into Alice Creek as well. Cold damp air. Clear counter of mail. Bed down with hot water bottle as wind blows – the yachts are obviously expecting a rough night.

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