27th August – 2nd September 2023
The blue moon cruise week was memorable. Not only for the huge super moon that filled the night sky but also for the remarkable matriarch Pam, celebrating her joyful 90th birthday with her precious family of children, grandchildren and their spouses. It is always a privilege for us crew, to feel like an extended branch of the Luciole family charters.
Through the week the younger generations were active, biking, walking and swimming in the River Yonne. On Friday afternoon for the final stretch of cruising into Clamecy, there was mini mutiny when Captain Jim, lost his steering position to Ted and the cousins, who kept the boat on course as we rounded the final bend towards the medieval town and our final destination.
In the evenings, laughter rang from the saloon as board and card games were played with gusto. On Friday night we must not forget the cheese quiz but also we remember the impressive rendition, that still rings in my ears, of ‘Birches’ by Robert Frost – thank you Gordon.
Slowly the night drew to a close, whilst overhead Elon Musk’s starlink satellite system (not a UFO!) passed over in the starry sky. To close the evening, everyone strolled to the water’s edge to make a wish and toss table flowers into the racing River Yonne, as it tumbled over the weir towards Auxerre and then Paris, where we all know, our wishes will come true.
Birches – by Robert Frost
When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy’s been swinging them.
But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay
As ice-storms do. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust—
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.
But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm
I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows—
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father's trees
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It’s when I’m weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig’s having lashed across it open.
I'd like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth’s the right place for love:
I don’t know where it's likely to go better.
I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.
Hotel barge Luciole
Cruising since 1976
Phone: 00 44 1625 576880
From USA: 011 44 1625 576880
23 Adlington Road, Bollington
SK10 5JT England
1-2 Quai de la Republique, Auxerre
© Hotel Barge Luciole 2023