15 August, 2003
A little while ago, I walked by a very small office that also serves as a kind of phone booth for the Palmer. At the same time I heard music. I continued on, but the rhythmic sound faded away. Curious about the source of these unfamiliar but pleasing tones, I retraced my steps and noticed that they seemed to be coming from the phone booth.
After knocking, I was welcomed by a smiling Jim Swift, the Chief Scientist for the cruise, who invited me to listen while he played his bassoon. Jim had been practicing mostly musical scales, now that there was an audience; he performed a wonderful piece by Bach.
Although Jim's bassoon is perhaps the most unusual instrument aboard, there are many others as well. Electronics Technician Brent Evers and Chief Steward Mark Stone both play guitar. Network Administrator Jim Waters is learning to play the tin whistle. Marine Science Technician Eric Hutt can often be found in the Aft Winch Control Room strumming and picking his mandolin. And just the other night, Electronics Technician Rob Palomares serenaded several of us with a lullaby on his small (button?) accordion.
I guess it has always been this way. Sea-chanteys, of course, were formerly sung by sailors in rhythm to their motions while working. Being out at sea and music seem to be one in the same. Maybe it's the sound of the wind and the water. Perhaps it is the mythical siren's call luring the Palmer to the edge of the world. My father once told me about a shipmate that played the harmonica before turning in each night when he was in the Navy. One thing for certain: It will be a long, long time before I ever forget this music of the sea that I am experiencing on the Palmer.
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