Scenes from a Viking funeral

Posted by Ken Campbell October 25, 2010 0 Comment 1757 views

Totally off the subject, if indeed there is a subject: I had the chance to attend a Viking funeral here at the beach the other day.

Ib Christiansen, long-time Salmon Beacher, died some time back. One of his old friends made a longboat replica out of some of his possessions – lead pipe keel from his house, pieces of plasterboard from bygone building projects, that sort of thing. The finished model was about three feet long with a blue sail, filled with combustibles and the old boy’s ashes.

The plan was to float the longboat off shore from Ib’s old house and set it afire. A Viking funeral, sort of. The soul of the warrior ascending to Valhalla in the flames, while those who attended sang of his conquests. Like many plans, however, it didn’t quite come out the way it had been drawn up. One word: freeboard. (I’m pretty sure that’s one word anyway.) Let’s just say that Archimedes had the last word, as far as the boat was concerned. It sank. Fast.

Ah well, it was ultimately going to be a burial at sea anyway, nothing really changed there. I know the boy wanted to see flames – I did too – but this whole event wasn’t about us. Likewise, I know Ib didn’t care much either. Judging from the cheers that erupted from the surrounding boats, the ceremony was an unqualified success, even without the fireworks.

There was a reception/party/reminiscing after the deal went down, and Micah and I wolfed down our share of the thick, meaty stew and the warm, peppery bread as the old-timers told their stories. I didn’t know Ib well – tried to buy a house from him once, but that’s about it – but it was a good feeling to be around so many people who did know him and were taking the time to celebrate his life.

Just another special day at Salmon Beach.

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