AN ARCTIC WIND carried the first snowstorm of January across the North Country this week, the temperature dropped to six below zero, and our long, steep driveway is a bobsled run of packed snow and ice. Last night, listening to the shriek of the bitter wind in the eaves, I could hear three Sirens sing to me – a lilting, melodious, enticing song: “Come to us, be with us, stay with us…”
They promised me an escape from harsh winter to gentle lands of warmth, excitement, splendor, comfort, and pleasure. They whispered to me their names: Arizona, Utah, Nevada.
In Greek mythology, the Sirens are beautiful but dangerous sea creatures that play enchanting music and sing sensuous songs to lure sailors to shipwreck and death on the rocky coasts of their islands. Artworks from the classical age of the Greco-Roman world depict Sirens as seductive creatures, half woman and half bird, whose exquisite faces and bodies add to their alluring voices and beguiling music to make them irresistible.
Once a Siren song reaches your ear, you are doomed.
Racing toward their sweet music, hoping to leave the North Country winter for a while, I have put on more sail, turned the rudder, and headed for those Southwestern shores, praying they are not studded with jagged rocks and swept by crashing waves. Come February we are renting a camper van and driving, driving, driving first south and then west, away from the snow, away from the cold, away from the chilling winds. The Sirens promise all will be well, all will be warm, all will be serene.
We hear their songs and believe.
This much we do know: all will be spontaneous and serendipitous. We are making no detailed plans. Sail along highways for a day and then seek harbor. Stay and enjoy new vistas for a day or two or three, and then sail on.
I’ll bet the Sirens love sailors like us: naïve and inexperienced and wandering. We are easy marks for these creatures that could entrance the fabled ancient Greek hero Odysseus when he heard their song as he sailed across the wine dark sea on his voyage home from the Trojan war to his kingdom of Ithaca. The Sirens tried to wreck his ship and kill his crew, but he survived and eventually reached the goal of his far-flung travels.
My goal is more mundane: to roll across the asphalt dark highway and watch a few major league pre-season games in Cactus League ballparks. My “crew,” the hapless Cincinnati Reds, will probably get killed, but that will not be the animosity of the Sirens but the futility of poor hitting and worse pitching.
That will be a minor misfortune. And the Siren song has enchanted me, promising much good fortune, warm sunshine, soft winds, long lazy days, spicy Mexican cuisine, cold beer. In the Southwest, everything will be pleasurable, exciting, wondrous, splendid. The Sirens have promised.
I will let you know how this all works out.
More essays and stories about life in the North Country are published in my six collections of essays, available through Amazon.com at Jerry Johnson Author Page