This Day, O Soul
By Walt Whitman
This day, O Soul, I give you a wondrous mirror;
Long in the dark, in tarnish and cloud it lay —
But the cloud has pass’d, and the tarnish gone;
... Behold, O Soul! it is now a clean and bright mirror,
Faithfully showing you all the things of the world.
Among its attractions are the New Bedford Whaling Museum, which features a half-size replica of the Lagoda, a whaling ship from the last century, displayed with its sails fully rigged...
...and the Seamen's Bethel, which means "House of God" in Hebrew, where sailors were invited to attend services and to stay in the nearby Mariner's Home (rather than hanging out in taverns and houses of ill-repute along the water)...
...where Herman Melville heard stories of whaling from sailors as he sat and worshipped in the last pew on the first floor, and gathered ideas for Moby Dick. John Huston's film of the novel featured a pulpit in the shape of a ship's prow, so the church was altered to make life imitate art.
Behind this statue is the old auction house where fish prices were once set. Now it's a National Park Service information center.
The town still has many original stone streets and the buildings that once housed fugitive slaves, who were welcomed in New Bedford and assisted by many passionate local abolitionists who were outraged that slaver ships often disguised themselves as whalers to escape detection.
Sorry to be brief but tonight we are in Cape Cod, where the highlight of my day -- indeed, perhaps the trip so far -- was standing on the beach at night watching the Perseid meteor shower. I've seen more shooting stars tonight than in my entire life thus far, and a great band of the Milky Way more clearly than anyplace other than camping in the mountains, rising out of the ocean through Sagittarius on the horizon. The water here is warm and free of red seaweed, though there is plenty of the green stuff, as well as some underwater scurrying crabs that I have felt but not seen.
Unfortunately our hotel has only three phone lines to be shared among all the rooms and they have a strict ten minutes to a dataport rule, so I cannot stay online long enough for comments or to read anything at all; I can scarcely even get my mail! And the news is reporting that the hurricane currently hitting Florida is expected to head straight up the coast. Hope everyone in the path is safe and hope this isn't another Isabel near home!