Shemya and St.Swithin's...

July 14, 2018

The island of Shemya is a 2-mile by 4-mile long rock that is cold, desolate and isolated.  This Alaskan island has the Bering Sea on one side, the northern Pacific on the other and is pounded by angry seas and constantly hit with Arctic storms.  It's one of those rare places that has hurricane force winds without experiencing a hurricane. On occasions the snow comes in sideways, making exposed skin feel like it has sandblasted. Eighty people work on the island, operating a 30-year-old early warning radar along with an intelligence-gathering antenna, satellite uplink and an airfield.  Occasionally, tankers remain offshore sometimes for a month, unable to unload because of the rough weather. Supplies are sent in by barge or plane but the elements prevent needed provisions and supplies from arriving on time. Also, the Bishop of Winchester was a Benedictine monk who died July 2, 862. He requested to be buried outside so the rain would fall on his grave. Unfortunately, he was entombed in a cathedral and a drought began.  Once re-buried outside, the drought ended and the rain returned for 40 days. The English tradition states that if it rains on July 15th, St. Swithin's Day, it will rain for 40 days. This seems to apply only to England.  "St. Swithin's Day if thou dost rain, for 40 days it will remain. If it be fair, 40 days rain nae mair.”  Renowned poet Paddy Shingleton writes:  “If St. Swithin were in our space, heat and steam would sweat his face.”

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