Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Cremation of Sam McGee

Thinking back, one of the fondest memories I have gathered here, living on the dock, is of a winter evening aboard Black Opal.

I need to take you back, back to winter: it is cold, and windy, and dark. I don't recall now if dinner was involved, but certainly after-dinner wine was. We had ducked out of Eolian and trotted thru the weather and the dark down the dock a few slips to Black Opal. It was definitely that kind of
night - the kind where you want to cozy up to a fireplace in the company of good friends. Well there was no fireplace, but Fred had the Dickenson turned up enough, and it was cozy down below. Yes, there was wine. And there was friendship.

I don't remember now what led to it, but Fred pulled a book off the bookshelf and began reading from Robert Service's The Songs of a Sourdough. In my memory of that evening, the poem, "The Cremation of Sam McGee," - about a prospector who freezes to death in the Yukon - stands out. The poem was perfectly in tune with the night. Fred's times in Alaska made it all the more authentic. And our times in Chewelah gave us a foundation upon which Fred and Mr. Service could weave the imagery.

The poem fit the night, and Fred made it real.

Last evening, gathered on the dock in the warm, I was reminded of that cold winter nite past, when Fred talked about visiting Sam McGee's restored cabin on his homestead (Sam McGee was a real person). The contrast between the cold of the remembered evening and the warmth of the present one, sitting outside, comfortably in shirt sleeves, was severe. I shivered.

I'm glad it is not winter.

1 comment:

Mike said...

I had never heard that poem before. Thanks.


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