Chapter 3        

           After the celebratory dinner, Unless and Until tidied the dinner things and prepared for sleep.  The little green birds were lingering over their breadcrumbs and water, so the windows and doors were left open.
           The next morning, Unless and Until took the first painting from the easel and hung it in the dining room, where they’d had such a wonderful celebratory dinner.  Each wondered whether they would have such success looking at the next picture, but said nothing to the other about it.
           Astonishment was in store for both of them when they finished their morning chores and went to the front room to take a good first look at the second picture.  The boat!
           “We remember!” both cried, simultaneously.
           “The OSV Mirror!” Unless shouted.
           “We remember something at last,” breathed Until.
           The whole rest of that day and much of the next, Unless and Until were lost in a haze of reminiscence.  They had each boarded the OSV Mirror from a distressed cruise ship on which they had been the only passengers, and had joined in with life on the Mirror as if sailors themselves.  The Mirror mainly wended her way from ship to ship in various sea lanes, delivering mail or supplies, and she occasionally ventured out onto the open ocean where no other ships would ever go.
           The captain of the Mirror, who was called “Captain,” explained to Unless and Until that part of being an Offshore Support Vessel was doing unusual jobs that would otherwise go undone.  Sailing to strange waters under strange skies to mark the locations of mysterious motionless cloud banks, huge flying creatures, and underwater cities, saved other ships the toil and confusion of coming upon such things by accident.
           “It doesn’t confuse us, here on the Mirror, you see,” said the Captain, “because we are doing it on purpose.  And, because it is just part of our job, we don’t go interfering with the underwater – not ours, not part of our job.”
           This explanation was deeply satisfying to Unless and Until.  After coiling ropes or scrubbing bilges or making stew, whatever the chores for the day were, they would each stretch their neck out over the stern of the ship and watch the many wonders of these strange waters pass beneath.  Unless and Until passed many happy months on the Mirror.  Days of hard work in blistering sun were followed by restful contemplation of the mysteries and treasures of the cold deep.  There were tales of distant lands, new words in languages that made their tongues feel thick in their mouths, and a sense of adventure.
            Unless and Until even learned one of the crew’s favorite songs.  In the course of reminiscing, they each heard the other humming it, and then sang it together, joyfully, waving mops and brooms from the cupboard to simulate ship-board chores.

           we heaves we hos, the wind she blows
           what we forgets the ocean knows
           we heaves we hos, the wind she blows
           what we forgets the ocean knows

           There was a laddie gone to sea – heave ho heave ho
           his mummie thought he’d sailor be – heave ho heave ho
           when he came home what did she see – heave ho heave ho
           no more a little laddie he – heave ho heave ho

           we heaves we hos, the wind she blows
           what we forgets the ocean knows
           we heaves we hos, the wind she blows
           what we forgets the ocean knows

           hold tight the lines the sails to trim – heave ho heave ho
           even if you’ve learned to swim – heave ho heave ho
           the sea’s a cup without a rim – heave ho heave ho
           you’re never out once you’ve been in – heave ho heave ho

           we heaves we hos, the wind she blows
           what we forgets the ocean knows
           we heaves we hos, the wind she blows
           what we forgets the ocean knows

           though landsmen call no sailor wise – heave ho heave ho
           we see all that haunts the skies – heave ho heave ho
           they wear tight shoes and silky ties – heave ho heave ho
           and never see with open eyes – heave ho heave ho

           we heaves we hos, the wind she blows
           what we forgets the ocean knows
           we heaves we hos, the wind she blows
           what we forgets the ocean knows

           *** click here for We Heaves We Hos ***


           Eventually, the Mirror pulled up to the cruise ship again, now repaired, and Unless and Until rejoined it as paying passengers who were expected simply to lounge all day in the shade and go to sleep in slick furnished cabins.  They were both pleased to disembark as soon as the cruise ship came ashore somewhere.
           Until looked at the fancy knotwork they had hung in the window, and at last remembered the young boy, far too young to be away from home it seemed, who had taught Unless and Until how to manage as sailors the best they could without the clever kind of hands the crew of the Mirror had.  The boy had made the fancy knotwork for them, once it was clear that neither Unless nor Until would ever get the knack of tying up the strands of hemp in such an orderly and decorative way.  It was wonderful to have the memento of his friendship.  Unless wondered how long ago they had traveled on the Mirror and how many of their friends were still on board.  Until put a note in the “needs reply” pile of mail to remind them to send a letter to the Captain and crew of the OSV Mirror.
           Unless and Until hung the second picture next to the window where they had hung the fancy knotwork.  The two did not feel the same sense of accomplishment as had filled the house a couple of days before over the first picture, but they were happy.  Their faulty memory had granted them remembrance of a great adventure they had shared and of mysteries they had glimpsed.  It was enough.
           They decided to take a few days off from picture-looking to tend to the “needs reply” pile of mail.  As it happened, many of the neighbors had written.  “When you are back,” they said, “tell us! Tell us where you have been and what you have seen!”  Until wondered what to do with the enormous pearl if the neighbors came over, because if they invited everyone over they would have to make punch.
           Unless considered the problem for a few minutes and said to Until, “Let’s wait to invite them.  Nobody wants to be invited out of obligation, or come where they aren’t wanted.  When we really want to see the neighbors, we will invite them.  If we need to make punch, we will put the enormous pearl on a bed until everybody leaves and we wash the punch bowl.”
           “That is a wonderful solution.  Let’s check the garden and the front yard, and then we can have dinner.”
           While Until checked the garden for weeds, Unless checked the front yard flowers and found the vines well advanced between the pickets of the fence.  They chuckled, and made no effort to trim the weeds back.  Winter was coming, for the vines and for everyone.  Unless was not completely certain that all the neighbors would rather wait to come over and get all the news and see the treasures Unless and Until had acquired, but Unless was fairly certain that Until did not want the trouble of the neighbors coming over just yet, and that was more important.
           Dinner was a simple meal of greens and roasted vegetables.  Unless and Until sat in the moonlight for a while, remembering the ocean, and went to sleep feeling that much good had been accomplished.

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Image: Julie Püttgen, Cloudmapping: Becalmed. Gouache, watercolor, and pencil, 12x16", 2008.
Text & Lyrics: JS van Buskirk
Music: James R. Carlson
Animation: Matt Gilbert


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