Sunday, July 31, 2011


I leave tomorrow for the Faroe Islands for a 3 1/2 week study of the Faroese language. I have a bad habit of picturing what a place will be like before I've seen it (outside of google images). Sheep that outnumber people three to one, sodden hills, grass roofs, sudden fogs, cake and raisin stuffed puffin dishes, and controversial whale hunting make not imagining the Faroes difficult. But being there will be beyond imagination. 

I remember stepping off the plane in Pucallpa, Peru. No amount of reading prepared me for the enveloping wall of heat (sort of pleasant) and the smoke tang in the air. Being there is something that travelogues can't give you. So when I step off the final plane after a solid day of flight into the 50 degree evening, I'll see what the Faroes are like. 

As I finalize my packing, lines from two very different poems run through my head. The first is from the Hobbit. When I think of it, I hear the singer on the warbling 45' record of the book I listened to growing up. Hobbit doggerel I know, one of the many songs I skipped when rereading Tolkien as an adult, but sometimes things are trite and true:

   "The greatest adventure is what lies ahead.
   Today and tomorrow are yet to be said.
   The chances, the changes are all yours to make.
   The mold of your life is in your hands to break."

Tennyson is out of fashion. Our culture is suspicious of motivational/inspirational themes in serious art. Dead Poets Society also did this poem in. But I've loved it since reading it as a junior in high school and I think of it now:

     “Push off, and sitting well in order smite
     The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
     To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
     Of all the western stars, until I die.
     It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
     It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
     And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.”

Hopefully neither Air Canada or Atlantic Air will be smiting the sounding furrows. But adventure is the unfolding, actual happenings rather than the overview of a place. Internet will be patchy in Torshavn but I will try to update this periodically. 

Cheers, dear reader. Onward and outward.


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