When we talk about water we find that it has different meanings for different people. It has also created different experiences for different people. Many years ago when I was much younger, all of the students in our school were required to read The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. This poem relates the experiences of a sailor who has returned from a long sea voyage. The mariner stops a man who is on the way to a wedding ceremony and begins to narrate a story.
For those of us who were raised near a seaport, this poem was an accumulation of many of the stories we heard in our childhood.
I babysat for a couple in our neighborhood who told many stories about the sea. The father was a fisherman and would go out to sea for nine days regardless of the weather. Rain, snow, ice, and high winds did not stop them because that was how they made their living. When they returned to port they sold their catch, re-provisioned, made repairs, and in four days they were ready to go back to sea. Just imagine the stories from a seaman who was at sea for months.
Depending on the mood in different parts of the poem we could see the wedding guest's reaction turn to impatience, to fear, and to fascination as the mariner's story progresses. Despite initial good fortune, the ship is driven south by a storm and eventually reaches Antarctica.
An albatross appears and leads them out of the Antarctic, but even as the albatross is praised by the ship's crew, the mariner shoots the bird. The crew is angry with the mariner, believing the albatross brought the south wind that led them out of the Antarctic. The sailors change their minds when the weather becomes warmer and the mist disappears.
Supporting this crime is a grave mistake as it arouses the wrath of spirits who then pursue the ship "from the land of mist and snow"; the south wind that had initially led them from the land of ice now sends the ship into uncharted waters, where it is becalmed.
Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor mo tion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.
Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.
In anger, the crew forces the mariner to wear the dead albatross about his neck, perhaps to illustrate the burden he must suffer from killing it, or perhaps as a sign of regret "Ah! Well a-day! What evil looks / Had I from old and young! Instead of the cross, the albatross / About my neck was hung".
Eventually, the ship encounters a ghostly vessel. On board is Death (a skeleton). He will endure a fate worse than death as punishment for his killing of the albatross. One by one, all of the crew members die, but the mariner lives on, seeing for seven days and nights the curse in the eyes of the crew's corpses, whose last expressions remain upon their faces.
As penance for shooting the albatross, the mariner, driven by guilt, is forced to wander the earth, telling his story, and teaching a lesson to those he meets.
He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.
After relaying the story, the mariner leaves, and the wedding guest returns home, and wakes the next morning "a sadder and a wiser man".
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge has changed much of the way poems and stories are told. If you have not read it before, please check it out at the Altamont Free Library. If you have read it, a long time ago, it may be time to re-read the poem and freshen your outlook on poetry.
Images of America
On Sunday, Aug. 10, Keith C. Lee, author of Images of Altamont will be in the Altamont village community hall for a book signing reception from 3 to 5 p.m.
The popular Altamont Fair will open on Tuesday, Aug. 12. Watch for daily schedules in the Altamont Enterprise. "See you where? At the Altamont Fair".
The Community Caregivers are celebrating 20 years of service to surrounding communities. In conjunction with the celebration, the group is holding a drawing of a one of a kind gold pendant featuring the group's logo of clasped hands forming a heart on an 18-inch gold chain. The dime-sized pendant was designed by Cindy Crounse, owner of Refined Designs in Voorheesville. Tickets are $10 each or 3 tickets for $25.
Tickets are available at the Community Caregiver's office located at 2021 Western Ave., Suite 104 in Guilderland. Checks can be mailed to the Caregivers with drawing written in the memo line. Ticket stubs will be sent in the return mail.
Placement information is expected to be sent to the parents of Altamont Elementary School students early next week. Also a list of suggested school supplies for children in their grade level will be enclosed.
Canyon Country trip
St.Lucy/St. Bernadette Church in conjunction with Jean Gagnon, a travel agent for a Canyon Country trip. The dates for the trip are Oct. 15 to 23. Registration fliers are available in the gathering space at the church. Additional information regarding the trip can be obtained by contacting Ms. Gagnon at 785-3338 or online at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The food pantry, housed at St.Lucy/St.Bernadette parish center always has a variety of needs. Currently, pasta and pasta sauce are needed. All donations can be left in the gathering space inside the church located on Grand Street.
Supreme Queen Marsha D. Sowers, Supreme Queen of the Daughters of the Nile visited Cyrene Temple No. 18 on July 29. She has attended the 140th Imperial Shriners session in Minneapolis, Minn., has visited 14 Daughters of the Nile temples and visited four Shriners hospitals since her installation in June in Omaha, Nebraska.
Following her Albany visit, she made official visits in Utica, Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo.
Happy-anniversary wishes extended to:
— Sherry and John Cuipek celebrating their special day on Aug. 12; and
— Yvette and Steve Terplak on Aug. 13.
Happy-birthday wishes are extended to:
— Ernie Cardone, Amy Ciupek, Becky Godfrey, Liz neé Nitsky Egan, Elizabeth Marks, Amanda Malone, and Barbara Peterson on Aug. 8;
— Karen Grimm and Elena Toscano on Aug. 9;
— Wallie Best, Diane neé Culella Booth, and Don Filkins on Aug. 10;
— Susan Mudgett on Aug. 11;
— Larry Adams Sr., and Dorothy Crupe on Aug. 12;
— Patricia Goessler, Jacob Miller, Kathryn neé Wassel Ostie, and Sarah Katherine Simon on Aug. 13; and
— Keven Brunk, Harold Grant, and Kate Kowalski on Aug. 14.