As we prepared for our 6th cruising season, our little voice returned and again began whispering to us from the dark recesses of our minds. In spite of the grand expectations of cruising to Paris, spending the winter in the south of France and traveling through Spain before returning to Vivante in the spring of 2018, we felt that palpable sense of unease.
During the winter, several of our good friends had made the decision to close the circle on their barging lives, returning to their home countries to begin new adventures. While they remain a big part of our lives, their orbit had shifted further away from ours. Rationally we knew that this was inevitable for them as it will one day be for us. However, emotionally it was a bit unsettling.
There is a sense of community on the canals that is hard to explain to those who have not experienced it. Like others who choose to do unusual things considered to be a bit outside of the mainstream, support from others in the “tribe” is important. When you have one of those days where little, if anything, breaks in your direction, having a cohort who has been to that rodeo before can help you through it with a glass of wine, a smile and perhaps even a wee chuckle or two.
We have had other acquaintances move on but this was the first time that a big chunk of our support structure had departed. Carol and I simply did not know what to expect. Now as we sit snugly aboard Vivante on a chilly November evening we can happily report that the little voice has once again fallen silent.
This year, as it has for many years before us and will continue to be long after we are gone, new faces appear through the lock gates and the process of building friendships begins anew. We simply hope that, just as our friends did for us, we can help welcome these new arrivals into this grand barging family.