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My fondness for the ocean is well-documented; I’ve occasionally been accused of having mostly salt water in my veins. So perhaps my acquisition of a mermaid was simply predestined?
I was poking through a magnificent, rambling junk shop- dusty music tour posters mingled with old pottery, hand-made furniture interspersed with antique postcards. And then I saw her! And I knew I had to bring this magnificent sea sprite back to the store.
And why not? We already have a bathtub, for the gin. And a boat, for the bargain wines. Our dessert wines live on a rolltop desk. And Bosco the unicorn bides his time until children can come visit him again. Why shouldn’t we also have a mermaid?
This mermaid’s name is Calypso, for the sea nymph who held Odysseus captive on Ogygia for seven years, either captivating him with her delightful singing or keeping him as an unhappy sex slave, depending somewhat on your interpretation. My favorite high school English teacher assigned the Fitzgerald translation of Homer’s The Odyssey; I’ve loved the book-and Greek mythology-ever since.
I especially love trying to puzzle out different locations from the text. Are Scylla and Charybdis the Straits of Messina? Northeastern Sicily is supposedly the land of the Cyclops. The Aeolian islands are named for Aeolus, God of the Winds. And when we visited Malta last year, Calypso’s Cave was on my must-see list.
If Sicily is the Isle of the Sun, and Odysseus sailed due south from there before being shipwrecked on the first island in his path, that island would be Gozo, part of the Republic of Malta. Gozitan tradition holds that Ogygia was indeed Gozo, and identifies a cave overlooking the red sands of Ramla Bay as the location of Calypso’s enchanted garden.
When we arrived, a recent rock slide had closed the main entrance, but an enterprising taxi driver offered to take us to the ‘local’ side. And so I found myself at the ‘site’ of these mythical events. Standing there, listening to the waves crash and smelling sun-warmed herbs, was fairly magical. Weeks later, tasting rum at Privateer, one particular cask gave me those same tropical/herbal/sea spray vibes. And Calypso’s Garden Rum was born.
Right now, Calypso’s hanging out with her rum. You’ll have a chance to meet her (virtually) at our upcoming Records and Rum, with Privateer’s Maggie Campbell, on October 29. After that, who knows where she’ll end up? But we’ve told her the boat and the bathtub are strictly off-limits.