Draken Harald Hårfagre

10-8-16-0859
10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ Mystic Seaport ~ Mystic, Connecticut

Over time, I have come to realize that our culture has made valuable contributions to our world heritage at large. For me, it’s important to turn the spotlight on these contributions, and not just the more recent ones, but also our fantastic contributions to craftsmanship and technology. Shipbuilding was the rocket science of the Viking era.
~ Sigurd Aase
(Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ Expedition America 2016)

10-8-16-0927
10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ Mystic Seaport ~ Mystic, Connecticut
10-8-16-0865

On a gray, misty Saturday we went over to Mystic Seaport to see the Viking longship Draken Harald Hårfagre. Draken means dragon and Harald Hårfagre refers to Norwegian King Harald Fairhair. I didn’t get to see her sail into Mystic with her red silk sail because we had been in North Carolina visiting the little one. But much to my delight, the ship will be wintering here at the Seaport. She will be covered over, though. If I keep my eye on the newsletters from Mystic Seaport, a living history museum, I hope to catch her sailing away in the spring.

10-8-16-0869
10.8.16 ~ costumed Viking enthusiasts who were also waiting in line

Draken Harald Hårfagre is the end result of a daydream of the ship’s owner, Sigurd Aase. After our tour I bought a lovely souvenir guidebook, full of stunning pictures of the journey here from her home port in Haugesund, Norway. Stops were made at the Shetland Islands, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, Newfoundland and cities along the Saint Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes. Then it went through the New York State canals to the Hudson River and finally down the river to New York City and then Mystic.

The ship has a lovely website: Draken Harald Hårfagre

10-8-16-0874
10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre

It’s a big challenge to sail a ship of this old variety, and to prove that it is possible to sail a large open Viking ship across the seas.
~ Capt. Björn Ahlander
(Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ Expedition America 2016)

10-8-16-0875
10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre
10-8-16-0892
notice the fika (coffee) “machine” near the entrance to the galley ~ our guide assured us that modern-day coffee was very important to the crew members!
10-8-16-0899
personal items were stored in these chests which fit in the deck of the ship ~ the lid becomes part of the deck itself ~ our guide explained that no part of the ship is water tight so they wrapped their belongings in plastic before putting them in these narrow chests
10-8-16-0926
notice the little dinghy with a sail tethered to the longship
harald
“King Harald Fairhair” as portrayed by Peter Franzén on the History Channel’s television drama “Vikings”

And now for a pet peeve of mine. There were several visitors wearing “Viking” helmets with horns who were approached by other visitors asking them where they could get a helmet for themselves. Of course they weren’t for sale on the ship or at the museum gift shop! The guide book, if they cared to read it, debunks the myth of the horned helmet:

One of the most widespread myths in history is the one about the Vikings wearing horned helmets. Their helmets had no horns. The popular image dates back to the 1800s, when Scandinavian artists like Sweden’s Gustav Malmström included the headgear in the their portrayals of the raiders. When Wagner staged his Der Ring des Nibelungen, commonly refers to as the “Ring cycle” in the 1870s, costume designer Carl Emil Doepler created horned helmets for the Viking characters, and an enduring stereotype was born.
~ Draken Harald Hårfagre guidebook ~ Expedition America 2016

10-8-16-0932
10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ Mystic Seaport ~ Mystic, Connecticut

The line to tour the ship, which only took a few minutes, was very long and stretched around other exhibits at the Seaport. Fortunately we were near the beginning and were marveling at how long the line still was two hours later. In spite of the rain!

The Gokstad ship we saw in Norway last year was one of the inspirational sources for the design of this ship: Viking Ship Museum.

10-8-16-0945

This is a fantastic opportunity to create history by reliving the challenges our Viking ancestors overcame. An adventure one wouldn’t miss for the world. It is thrilling to bring the Sagas to life and do something a little crazy and down to earth at the same time.
~ Arild Nilsen
(Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ Expedition America 2016)

my soul is in the likeness

Stapafell, Iceland, photo by Christian Bickel

If I imagine my soul, as I do when I pray, it’s shaped like Stapafel. No change of place or religion can alter that. I lived beneath Stapafel from the hour I was born until I was sixteen. I’ve never seen it since, but that doesn’t matter. My soul is in the likeness of a jagged peak with a rock like a man standing on its summit, and snags of rock shaped like trolls along its spine. Screes defend it, although it’s not quite inaccessible if you know the way up.
~ Margaret Elphinstone
(The Sea Road)

Eyjafjallajökull

photo by David Karnå
Eyjafjallajökull – Image: David Karnå

Watching the news last night, about all the flights grounded because it is too dangerous to fly through volcanic ash clouds, got me thinking… Years ago people used to respect the power of Mother Nature and they did their best to live in harmony with it. It seems like today we are determined to carry on with our plans with no regard whatsoever for the weather, the seasons, the climate, or natural disasters.

One of the things I loved about reading Kristin Lavransdatter and The Master of Hestviken was how Sigrid Undset portrayed the characters waking up in the middle of the night and knowing what time of night it was by the subtle sounds they heard outside and the feeling they got from the depth of darkness around them. Imagine being that in tune with the earth!

In Jane Smiley’s book, The Greenlanders, a mother poignantly explains to her son why his grandfather doesn’t have to do any chores:

After a long day, folk rest at night. After a long summer, folk play games and sit about in the winter. After a long life folk sit about the fire and stay warm, for the chill of death is upon them, and even the thickest bearskin can’t keep off the shivering.
~ Jane Smiley
(The Greenlanders)

Life is a mixture of positive and negative things, a delicate balance. On a walk in the woods we see the process of death and decay right along new growth and mature life. It’s more natural than a garden, where unwelcome plants are weeded out, and dead ones discarded as soon as possible. Once we went to a butterfly conservatory where my young friend asked a curator how long the butterflies lived. Usually a day or so was the answer. What happens to the ones that die? They’re swept up every morning. So all we see is the beauty, the dying part is hidden from our awareness.

I’ve been hesitant to blog the past couple of weeks because so many “negative” things are disrupting the rhythm of my life, and it seems a shame to whine about it. But perhaps negative things can be discussed without whining? More as part of the ebb and flow of life? Sometimes I think we pay a price for trying to carry on as if nothing has happened. Maybe we need to go to bed when it gets dark early, maybe we were meant to sleep more in the winter. Maybe we need to accept the universe and stay home when Mother Earth says we should not be flying…

Our little spaceship creates some very big dark clouds sometimes. So why should we expect to sail through our lives without limits on our plans and our share of disappointments and grief to endure? Yes, it would seem I’ve got a rather large dark cloud following me lately, but in the words of my favorite songwriter…

Isn’t it strange how we move our lives for another day
Like skipping a beat
What if a great wave should wash us all away?
Just thinking out loud
Don’t mean to dwell on this dying thing, but looking at blood –
it’s alive right now, deep and sweet within, pouring through our veins
Don’t beat your head, dry your eyes
Let the love in there
There are bad times, but that’s okay
Just look for love in it

~ Dave Matthews
♫ (Pig) ♫