Midwestern Wanderlog

2016-03-22 – First barge of the season!

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Once upon a time, Red Wing depended on the Mississippi River to transport agricultural products (mostly wheat) out and other necessities (goods, textiles, staples) in.  The eastern overlook was used specifically in the spring to watch for that first steamboat coming upriver once all the snow and ice had melted.

Sunrise Stats!
First light: 6:40 AM
Sunrise: 7:09 AM
Daylight: 13 hrs, 14 min

Well, the river’s first traffic actually ventured northward on the March 14th, but today was the first day the tugs were actively pushing the shallow-bottomed cargo haulers at sunrise.

Barges
Out of my window looking in the night,
I can see the barges’ flickering light.
Slowly flows the river to the sea,
As the barges go by silently.
Chorus:
Barges, I would like to go with you,
I would like to sail the ocean blue.
Barges, have you treasures in your hold?
Do you fight with priates brave and bold?
Out of my window looking in the night,
I can see the barges’ flickering light.
Starboard glows green and port is shining red,
I can see the barges from my bed.
Chorus
Out of my window looking in the night,
I can see the barges’ flickering light.
Anchors pull and engines start to roar,
As the barges pull away from shore.
Chorus
Out of my window looking in the night,
I can see the barges’ flickering light.
Stars are brightly lighting up the sky,
As the barges seem to skip right by.
Chorus
Out of my window looking in the night
I can see the barges’ flickering light.
Taking their cargo out into the sea,
How I wish  that someday they’d take me.
Chorus
How my heart wants to sail away with you,
As you sail across the ocean blue.
But I must stay beside my window clear,
As the barges sail away from here.
Barges, I would like to go with you,
I would like to sail the ocean blue.
Barges, have you treasures in your hold?
Do you fight with pirates brave and bold?

Seeing them come upstream, stately and slow, navigating turn and bend in the channel with care, I was reminded of a song I’d learned as a Girl Guide in Canada about the barges moving to the sea during the night.

The tune has a lonely sound, the words betraying a longing for adventure, new sights and sounds with which to fire the imagination.  Near to thirty years since the last time I sang it and still it’s imprinted indelibly in mind and heart.

When a person has the soul of a wanderer, songs like this call out to that deepest part of their nature; the desire to go, to see, to experience… and then to move on.  Because no one singular place can actually hold us for very long.  Even if we’re comfortable, even if we’ve built a home and group of close-knit friends; the internal call will come eventually, making feet and mind and heart restless.  Every hilltop cries out, what lies beyond me?  Come see!

If we’re lucky, we find a profession that feeds that innate desire, and we get to travel all our lives; gathering stories and experiences to share with the next group of friends.  Taking pictures to hold that place and its unique beauty forever in memory.

And if we’re not lucky… if the idea never occurs to make a career of traveling… if we don’t meet fellow adventurers who plant the idea in our heads, show us the way to achieve that uniquely impermanently-permanent lifestyle…

Then we stay in one place.  Aching.  Longing.  Bored and restless and filled with vague disquiet, as though something vital is missing.  We change jobs frequently, trying to soothe the internal turmoil that doesn’t seem to make any sense, have any source, any reason for existing in our lives.

Astonishing, what can cross the mind in those moments following the sight of something connected with strong nostalgia, isn’t it?

So how about you?  What cries out to the deepest part of your Self at odd moments, startling you with its intensity?

And what will you decide to do about it?

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