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Building a Frame Saw
Forging a Copper Kettle
Making a pair of leather work boots
Forging and Fletching a Bodkin
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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Across the Seas

16,000 endless leagues of open ocean pass beneath the keel, grey as slate and blue as glass, each one preserved in the same rhythmic imbalance of a crew without landfall in as many days as pass between two distant shores. Were it not for the changing of the moon each night might pass undistinguished from the last and as easily forgotten. Hours stretch into weeks, and in the blink of an eye it seems a month has come and gone before the sun meets noon. And yet, to the eye of western civilization, it is all dreamlike and distorted through a lens unappreciated through modern perspective.

Pago Pago Harbour, American Samoa
Nations take to the seas, their population more heavily laden on the decks of trawlers than the wharf from where they hail. To live for years at a time aboard a vessel no longer than a hundred yards, never mooring and never returning until the voyage is at an end, it would be to another mariner unfathomable. And yet that is a way of life. From the early hours of manhood until the seas harbor safety no more, there is a people who become strangers to land.

Port Villa, Vanuatu

Entrance to Port Villa, Vanuatu

Port Villa Harbour
For a day or three spanned by months upon months on either side, the Pacific's fishermen know only what touches the ports. Shirts on the backs of the deck hands once belonging to defeated sports champions and collapsed cultural icons, modern phones out of context from use, food for the bait of the catch and little else that cannot fit inside a footlocker is all that there is to sustain a life at sea. Perched on the tops of some, there stand greenhouses to grow fresh vegetables and herbs where otherwise there would be none. A pack of anxious dogs lie in a litter while their mother barks at foreign scent. Freezers to store the catch with fans and frost so blisteringly cold that a person would be frozen through in a quarter hour. Hands and feet calloused by working lines and scarred from the barbs and hooks that pass between them. There is a sovereignty in the life of the high seas no longer concerned or consumed by modern society.

Magnetic Island, Australia

Townsville, Australia
When the sun passes behind the horizon, an unbroken line of blue stretches across the sky 800 miles from the nearest rock. On those rare and hypnotizing nights where the moon has taken instead to the daylight, all manner of stars blaze across that midnight abyss. More lights appear as the eye drinks in the night than the busiest cities, each shimmering with their own hidden mysteries. Constellations that guided ancient mariners and storytellers return to the wanderer, cleft by the haze of the Milky Way. There it hangs in the sky and spans from one end of the horizon overhead and back down again to meet the earth. Even in the darkest places of the land it has never been so clear. Tendrils of its enormity fan out from the core, slight tints of colour painting the otherwise two tone heavens.

O'Ahu, Hawai'i
And again when daylight comes, lingering cloud cover broken in spectacular hues and crepuscular rays, only to reveal those rolling waves of blue and grey. When those rare days come between and land falls on the distant shore, it is with the awe of a world unchanged. So many thousands of islands and cultures and peoples lie on the edge of the modern world's chart that each one bears that same ancient wonder of exploration and mystery. And when the mountains and jungles and reefs drift into view, suddenly all that compels man to venture across the seas becomes understood.

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