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  • Maggie Tate

Verdant

Spring is my favorite time of the year. It's a yawning stretch out of a cold winter. A growing of pea green after dying barren brown. One of my favorite places we've traveled so far is the Dismal Swamp Canal. Evidently Dismal and Swamp are redundant - a dismal is an archaic word for swamp and it used to be called the Great Dismal. George Washington helped get it started and it connects the Albermarle Sound with the Chesapeake Bay. But by today's definition, dismal it was not!


After a truly dismal crossing of the Albermarle Sound (unexpected big waves), we continued past Elizabeth City to spend one night docked at the Dismal Swamp welcome center (for free!) We met two other looper boats and enjoyed our quiet and peaceful night after a long day of travel. We were the only 3 boats on this waterway. We traveled the canal for about 2 days - going only 5 miles per hour!


Leaving at dawn the next morning, the canal was near perfect glass. The boat behind us, Second Chance, took this beautiful photo of us as we departed.





As we traveled the river we saw turtles, geese, ducks and a bald eagle. I caught myself thinking "I'm going through this too fast! I can't see everything!" Remember we were going 5mph!! Bruce suggested I go sit on the bow of the boat with my coffee and a blanket. Such a gift. All I could think of is the creation passage in Genesis where God separated the sky, the earth and the water. The song "Canticle of the Sun" with its refrain played over and over in my mind: "All creation is shouting for joy! Come dance in the forest come play in the field, and sing sing to the glory of the Lord." It was beautiful and I was grateful to pause in these miles to soak it in.






Traveling north, we are chasing spring in all it's glory. Having just enjoyed Florida for March and April, I want that to mean we have perpetual sun and 70's but it really means we have a lot pollen, storms, wind, rain and cool nights. Today we are docked in cold and rainy Deale, Maryland waiting out a gale warning - big wind and rain. The rigging on all the sailboats around us is eerily howling. The cold rain is puddling in the grass where the dog walks and neither of us love that too much. I actually turned the heat on in the boat today. I promised myself that the next stop that has boat rain boots, I'm getting some for those days it's too cold to wear my chacos.



If Miami was where I felt myself expand (culture, vibrancy, thriving), the North Carolina Coast is where I started to feel myself slow down and rest. I am more comfortable sitting on the back deck and just watching what's going on, listening to the osprey, watching the boats, seeking the small things. (The flip side of that is wondering if I'll be able to ever drive a car again at 70mph but I try to tell that question to shush to deal with another day!)


I saw this Mary Oliver poem quoted recently and it captures the current moment beautifully.


When I am among the trees,

especially the willows and the honey locusts,

equally the beach, the oaks and the pines,

they give off such hints of gladness.

I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,

in which I have goodness and discernment,

and never hurry through the world

but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves and call out,

"Stay awhile."

The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, "It's simple," they say,

"and you too have come into the world to do this,

to go easy, to be filled with light and to shine"

- Mary Oliver

Hoping we all have moments we can stay awhile, be filled with light and shine.

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