There is no better way to learn the meaning of a word in a foreign language than to have it shouted at you with full force!

I am in Day two of my five day Zodiak driving course in Marseille, France. There are ten students and two professors (as the French say) out in the neoprene boat. Our current task is to land the Zodiak on a narrow stretch of rocky beach: just the sort of thing that will be a daily occurrence during Antarctic expeditions. I have approached the landing with a bit too much pace and need to slow down in a hurry. I hear ”Débraye!! Débraye” screamed by one of the profs. ”Oh! I get it” I say to myself. ”He wants me to put it in neutral.” I do just that and disaster is averted.

This week, I have also learned that Bâbord and Tribord are not characters in one of the  Asterix and Obelix stories that are so beloved by the French. They mean port and starboard.

When I hear that, in our next session we will learn ”Exécution d’un mouillage” I scratch my head. Are we killing something? No. We are practicing dropping the portable anchor.

In my days as an orchestral musician, I sometimes had anxious dreams. I would be just about to go on stage for the performance and realize that my French horn was back at home.

In my teaching days, I would dream of standing outside a classroom door having just been told that I was to teach a two hour class on knitting.

Well: last night, I awoke with a start. In my dream, I had been walking along the shore of a Mediterranean village when an enormous tsunami wave came and carried me far inland. In the distance, I could see a far greater one approaching.


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