Monday, June 19, 2006

The Pied Piper(s) of Friday Harbor

In the Ferry Terminal in Anacortes, men in kilts were milling about. Being the Scottish lassie that I am, I had to speak to them and inquire if there was, perhaps, a Clan Gathering or Highland Games event going on somewhere. No…they were (still are, I guess) a Pipe and Drum Band on their way to Friday Harbor to play a Memorial Day concert in the park.

On board the sparsely populated Ferry, the lads and lassies unpacked their pipes and drums and decided to get in a little practice. The wail of the bagpipes always stirs my heart and I thought myself privileged to get this practically private performance. But suddenly all the passengers from the front of the boat came rushing to the back windows and pointing and exclaiming.

Lo and behold! A pod of Orcas was following the boat. Determinedly and purposefully it would appear, as if they were on the trail of something very important. They trailed along all the way into Friday Harbor, almost up to the boat dock. People who live in the town could not remember when, if ever, the whales had come that far into the harbor.

While the Pipe and Drum Band played in the town square (that is really a circle) and the bagpipes wheezed, the whales frolicked in the water…jumping, splashing, diving, fluking and breeching as is their wont. Almost, it seemed, doing the Highland Fling. During this astonishing display, eagles were flying over the harbor with wings spread wide, floating and gliding to the music. [They tend to follow the whales who often lead them to a food source.] As the band played the final piece, “Amazing Grace,” people in the audience were moved to tears. As soon as the music stopped, the whales headed back out to sea.

This was Day One of my journey! An incredible send-off, not to mention a one-of-a-kind event for whale-watchers. The fact that the bagpipes spoke to the Orcas is not really surprising. They have a communication system all their own that depends on high-pitched sounds. They must have enjoyed the performance judging by their exuberant behavior. Witnesses, including the whale researcher, were astounded. Certainly the tour companies that promise whale viewing might now be advised to have a piper on board.


Blogger ejramblin said...

WOW, what an incredible experience!! Thanks for painting the vivid picture. Yes, you certainly knew you were on the right path!

1:52 PM  

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