To see the great Jupiter-Saturn conjunction, the Bosun and I joined our dockmates on a dockmate’s jaunty sailboat home (shhh! don’t tell our boat, but this boat is a little lighter afoot). While I had to juggle a last-minute work issue and found myself locked away in the cabin and wrestling with less entertaining topics for some of the ride, the evening was truly magical: a motley crew of shoulda-been pirates, a boardwalk aglow ashore, a sky hung with stars, and the sight of these two planets burning (I will be bold and say joyfully) together.
The whole night felt perfectly situated temporally, with the solstice and darkness wrapping around the astronomical pageant, with Christmas hovering near, arms full of its reminders of ancient journeys and longings.
So with Christmas Eve now here, with an old year washing out to sea, with 2021 coming on watch, well, I shall wish us all the rest of eight bells—the rest of a mariner released, by the chiming of the ship’s bell eight times (one chime for each half-hour of the standard four-hour watch), from their duties of keeping watch on deck. Let us retire to the crew’s quarters in the forecastle, have our rum and duff, sing songs of home, and rest well.
May 2021 be a year of renewal and hope.
And may we too enjoy that small bit of what Emily Dickinson received when she walked along the shore:
“I walked early, took my dog,
And visited the sea;
The mermaids in the basement
Came out to look at me.”
To mermaids finding us all in 2021 ... and whispering a secret each to us.