Valerie Blessley's Millenium Harp Quest

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The Millenium Harp Quest Voyages 1-5 on "Andante"

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Quest Location 1 - Hadley's Landing in Multnomah Channel, OR - March 24, 2002 - Palm Sunday


Today we took our first Millenium Harp Quest voyage aboard our boat, "Andante". After cruising for an hour and a half down the Columbia River, and up the Willamette River, we turned into the Multnomah Channel outside of Portland, OR. Our destination was the docks at Hadley's Landing.

When we arrived at the docks, we were warmly greeted by an enthusiastic group of Russian fishermen who literally leaped to Valerie's aid when tying up to the dock. One nearly fell into "the drink" when he tried to jump aboard. All of the hubbub was really unnecessary, as Captain Mark had good control of the boat. But they were not to be dissuaded, and Andante was quickly tied fast to the dock.

After a quick snack, we took Valerie's Rhapsody harp, Pikku Lintu (Little Bird in Finnish), up to the river bank. Appropriate documentation pictures were shot, and Valerie took the harp to a bench into the trees.

Before she could even set the harp down, Pikku Lintu began to ring with the wind. Valerie played a lovely rendition of "The Ash Grove," but still the harp rang on its own. The ringing became so insistent, that she stopped playing and began to listen to the song of the harp. It was clear that the harp "knew" its mission to bless the waters and the people at Hadley's Landing that day, and it didn't want Valerie messing it up.

Music was born there, as Valerie improvised with the wafting and waning of the winds. Pikku Lintu's voice rang out across the docks, the river and into the woods. As the wind ebbed and flowed, the tone of the harp changed from deep and resonant to bright and vibrant and back again. It was magical.

We could not have predicted the profound affect this harp and its song had upon us and the people there. When the quest is done, not only will Valerie become the Millenium Harper of Pacific Northwest Waters, but Pikku Lintu will definitely make sure she's the Millenium Harp of Pacific Northwest Waters. And who said that a harp was just an instrument?

Quest Location 2 - Bartlett's Landing, Government Island, OR - April 1, 2002


I played kantele on the docks here. It was a bit of a challenge holding it in my lap as the dock rocked. We saw a seal in the water on the way up here. It was "next to" the airport, swimming in the Columbia River. Mark and I certainly never expected to find them this far east of the ocean! People say that they follow the fish runs up the river. "Springers" are making their way to salmon spawning grounds.

The sun is out, and it's a beautiful day. We shared the dock with a couple and their dog; they have a nice sailboat. We could smell their popcorn popping -- yum!

A pair of geese flew overhead as I played. Water birds are swimming and diving nearby. We haven't felt the sun on our faces in a long time. What a blessing. A Finnish sounding piece came to me here -- "Bartlett's Landing." I have sometimes wondered if I will have a book of music to publish when the quest is done. It is becoming an interesting journey.

Quest Location 3 - Scappoose Bay in Multnomah Channel, OR - April 2, 2002

Mark and I were lucky to connect with an old friend from Chiropractic College, Dr. Cary Weddle. (That's Cary in the upper right corner, sporting a broken ankle.) She has a practice in a town near here. Cary brought two of her friends, who had never seen nor played a harp before. They both commented that they thought harps "could be addicting."

We camped at the end of a long dock, which we were told had no electrical power. One of the boat house owners was very kind and let us plug into his power. Now we will have heat tonight. The rest of the neighbors were as friendly, inviting us into the "community boat house" for a chat. It looks like there's a jolly bunch of boaters there.

After Cary and her friends arrived, we walked the long docks over to Andante, and welcomed them aboard. After catching up on each other's lives since last we met, Pikku Lintu joined us on deck. Mark grabbed the camera.

I played the harp here for almost an hour, and then let Cary's friends, Tommie and Jessie take turns. It won't surprise me if one of them ends up owning a harp one day. They were both enchanted, as we are.

Quest Location 4 - Coon Island in Multnomah Channel, OR - April 3, 2002


Mark and I stopped here on our way home to walk the dog. We had heard a lot about Power Squadron cruises to this dock. It's quite beautiful, and only reachable by boat. There are docks on both sides of the island, and we chose the north side dock, which actually seems to be the more traveled channel around the island.



I took out Pikku Lintu and played on the docks after obligatory pictures were taken. There was a man fishing from the dock as well as several small boats in the channel. People come near, but are often shy about talking to us.



A large Tollycraft cruiser turned around and came in, and Mark helped him dock. A fisherman then trolled closer. In the stillness, the harp sounds carried across the water towards several fishing boats. I wonder if any of them caught more fish after that. Is the blessing working?


Quest Location 5 - Government Island in the Columbia River, OR - April 20, 2002


Today we went for an overnight cruise with the Fort Vancouver Power Squadron. The afternoon was full of visits and tours of members' boats. They ranged from Tom and Jeanette's (our daughter and son-in-law) Ebb Tide 23 foot speed boat to a beautifully restored Pacemaker trawler.

Our four-year-old granddaughter, Kylin, and her friend, Shelby, played on the beach. For a little girl who doesn't like to get dirty, Kylin quickly transformed into an intrepid wader. Brightly colored beach toys and little girls in fluorescent life jackets made a perfect "Kodak moment."

After a potluck lunch, I took Pikku Lintu out on the dock for an impromptu concert. People brought chairs and cameras as I played. Many of them had never seen nor heard a harp before. One of the Power Squadron officers asked Mark and me to be the featured "speakers" at the May meeting. She wants the entire membership to know about my Quest.

When we returned home, we were treated to reading her story (forwarded on an email message), written for publication in "The Lookout," the Fort Vancouver Power Squadron newsletter. She even has plans to send an article to "The Ensign," the Power Squadron national magazine.

I am amazed and flattered by the level of interest. And even more, I am struck by the comment one woman made on the dock that day.

"If everyone listened to a harp like this every day, we wouldn't be at war."

Isn't this what Harping for Harmony is all about?

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