On a beautiful, crisp Spring afternoon, I touched down at Stockholm’s Arlanda airport and then took the first of my two trains north; firstly a fast inter city to Gävle (pronounced ‘yeyvla’), and the second a slower cross country, to Söderhamn. Micke picked me up and we drove the remaining part of the journey to Borka Brygga, the winter home of my long suffering companion ‘Free’. Once again the hospitality of Micke and his lovely daughter Tova, reminded me just how difficult the whole process could have been.
If I am honest my appetite for seafaring is beginning to falter and it often seems as if I have never done anything else. Sometimes I feel like a member of the crew of the Flying Dutchman, destined to roam the seas for eternity… The vagabond life is not always as romantic as some folk paint it out to be. Yes, the sailing is life affirming, and the various folk encountered, wonderfully interesting; but the endless hard work and drudgery of keeping a boat in seaworthy shape and the battle against cost and the winter attrition with all its spiteful little acts, can drain even the strongest and most resourceful of us. The worrying rise of officialdom and new laws to restrict freedom on the seas, adds only more problems. Is there nowhere left for we free spirits? A winter of sleeping on land in a bed with hot water, so easily available, has softened this old sailor to the point where she’s contemplating a possible change of life. Even the quirky and unusual can lose its impact in time and I think the website shows, due a general lack of interest from my older friends, that it may soon be time to bring the Saga to a gentle, painless demise.
Nothing lasts for ever… Modern life isolates many from the reminder that all is impermanent, and as the title of my website reminds: No one here gets out alive, no matter how many friends one has, how much supportive family, how wealthy… The Ferryman takes none of this into account when he paddles you across the Styx; you die alone… As time goes by, I feel more and more the call of the spiritual, and the disgust for Mammon and her legions; the complacent surrender of so many to the shackles of modern day slavery. Where has all the idealism gone? The Camino changed something in me at a deep level, woke me up, if you will. There is a path that continues beyond, and so it must be. When one opens the Pandora’s Box of the heart, how can it ever be shut again?
As I write this from Micke’s kitchen, the snow is swirling down from small dark clouds. They skitter by, making way for a bright blue sun soaked sky with its temporary warmth. The sudden plunge in temperature after the sun’s obfuscation, reminds me that Summer has yet to arrive this far north and any seafaring will be far from easy… My heart brims with the changing seasons and the call of the North flows through my sailor’s soul and yet that heart is hearing another tune too, one I have yet to understand… This is the Viking Realm… the Gods are real here…