Dick's Blog

“Quiet Places”, Chapter 29 of “Inside and Outside: Messages of Hope from a Lifelong Hiker and Depression Survivor”



Welcome back to my free memoirs. You can access all the chapters in my first memoir, “Hiking Out,” and all chapters posted to date of my second memoir, “Inside and Outside,” by going to my BLOG and clicking on the appropriate book title at dicksederquist.com  

This Week, “Quiet Places”, Chapter 29 of “Inside and Outside” (the soft chorus and the occasional nod from one head to another)

In Three Weeks, October 30, “The Magic Picture Window”, Chapter 30 of “Inside and Outside” (picture this with the lights turned off)


After a few years of restoration, the Steamboat SABINO at the world famous Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Connecticut, has been happily returned to service. This is a story about an evening I spent on the SABINO with a group of “humming” friends several years ago. It cast a spell on all of us. If you like four-part harmony while being transported over the water on the quietest transportation on this earth, then you will like this story about an informal singing group called the “Hummers” and their evening at Mystic Seaport. I copied this picture of the SABINO from the Mystic Seaport website (mysticseaport.org) with permission. It’s exactly as I saw and experienced it years ago. The picture captures the tranquility and mood. This is not a commercial endorsement, but when you read this story you will want to visit this place and take a quiet ride into history.

Quiet Places

Hikers find them all the time. They may be filled with sound but not from manmade sources. The white noise made by wind, moving water, bird and insect calls, rain or sleet hitting my parka, the crunch underfoot is easily displaced by visual stimulus and thoughts. When my tinnitus, the hiss in my inner ear and brain, is the only sound, this is truly a very quiet place. Even that annoyance is masked by my feelings of solitude.

The quietest natural place on Earth is an evergreen forest after a snowstorm. The heavily laden bows soak up every decibel. The words from my mouth, saying how beautiful it is, fail to reflect back to my ears, swallowed up by the muting self-canceling vibrations of billions of ice crystals. Will they play back my conversation to an empty wood when they succumb to the warm spring rains?

Sailors, too, are blessed with quiet places. Last night, I was transported over the mist-shrouded still waters of Mystic Harbor in the SABINO, powered by a 75-horse power steam-powered compound engine. Once a passenger ferry and cargo carrier, the SABINO is a National Historic Landmark, the last coal-fired steamer in America today, providing quiet and scenic rides for visitors to Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Connecticut. The vessel glided around the harbor without the faintest audible indication that there were 75 horses “silently running” on the lower deck. On the top deck, over two dozen men, including me, stood and sat softly singing old Yale college songs and ditties, led by a blind pianist named Dave. Dave read from his Braille songbook and kept the pace up, reminding us when we were singing a particular piece too slowly. The group of men call themselves “Hummers,” a gathering that has assembled once a year for this event for over thirty years. Membership is by invitation by any member. This was my introductory first year to the “Hummers”. Beer was served on board that night, and song sheets passed out to help those who never went to Yale or can’t remember the words to sixty or more songs. “Here’s to the man who drinks dark ale and goes to bed quite mellow.” The mood was mellow, each man in his own private quiet place. There was very little verbal communication, only the soft chorus and an occasional nod from one head to another.

After our hour of drifting by other historic landmarks, including the AMISTAD, a re-creation of the schooner involved in the 1839 revolt of the captives on board, we drifted in twos and threes along the misty pathway to the Seamen’s Inne (now called Latitude 41), where we continued our singing (in four part harmony no less) and a shared a buffet dinner, our gifted musician and spiritual guide casting his spell over us with many selections on his keyboard. Listening to the music of three of my favorite ballads, one of them, “Misty,” I was transported to my own inner self. Music does that to me. I’ve been a senior member of a snowshoeing group for over thirty years known as the Clowns. Last night I became a new fledgling member of the Hummers. Both groups have taken me to quiet and holy places. I’ll return again and again.

In Three Weeks, October 30, “The Magic Picture Window”, Chapter 30 of “Inside and Outside” (picture this with the lights turned off)

Dick Sederquist is a retired engineer, engineering consultant, writer, author, hiker, motivational speaker and cancer and depression survivor. Dick suffered an emotional breakdown 35 years ago, realizing that he had been depressed all his life. That started his long journey back to mental health and happiness. Dick writes motivational and inspirational nonfiction short stories and essays for general audiences on many topics including life, family, humor, spirituality, nature, science, his volunteer prison experiences, hiking and travel adventures, depression, overcoming adversity, and what the author refers to as “home improvement”, healing the mind and body we live in. Dick and his wife have been married 50 years; have two grown children and four grandchildren, all part of a close-knit, active, caring and loving family. The whole family believes that the greatest gift in life is helping others.


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Guest Thursday, 22 February 2018