Sunday, August 5, 2012
Living on the edge - more about Cape Breton
The amazing, resilient and friendly year-round residents of this island (which is separated from the mainland by very short distances in some places), live around the edge of this spine - in the coastal inlets that have become small harbours.
Many of them are still fishermen and women - using boats, nets and traps to catch fish including crab and lobster. That is a tough way to make a living - again, on the edge.
"There's 800 traps there each with 100 pounds of lobster waiting to be picked up," replied a fellow who was setting out with his wife in his boat to check on other traps they'd set. "That's 80,000 pounds of lobster, bought and paid for, just waiting pick up," he explained as he prepared his boat to leave the wharf.
The government in Nova Scotia along with the federal government has regulated times and places when and where lobster can be caught to ensure the sustainability of this fishery... it had been under great stress when their was unlimited fishing.
Most of the fishing boats were docked.
The sky promised wind and rain, sure to dash any unsuspecting boater onto rocks at the mouth of the harbour.
We discover another harbour further around the "scenic route" of the Cabot Trail - named for Jean Cabot, a European explorer of the 16th and 17th century - enamoured of the New World and paid handsomely for his adventures in discovery.
Two others - likely summer residents - also seem to be in love with this wee village if one considers the location of these modern new homes overlooking another protected harbour.
You can easily see in this photograph where the pounding sea has been able to dig away at the cliff creating a small rubble beach where bushes and shrubs manage to maintain a toehold despite the battering they must take in winter storms.
And at the end of the dock, we find a young family fishing for supper - which they've placed carefully in a child's sand bucket.
A young dad, his middle son who was about three maybe four I would guess and his daughter about eight, were travelling around the island and had decided to stop at this wharf and catch their dinner. I thought the young fellow would fall in he was so exuberant and excited over the catch. But then I watched Dad hold him carefully between his knees as they sat in a chair together with the fishing rod extended over the end of the pier.
Oh the excitement! The rod bent and another mackerel was added to the catch. Mum carrying the youngest of the three children had followed us along the dock to the end where her family were fishing. My cousin, her husband and I were deeply touched by the joy they shared in catching dinner. It was a special moment.
We soon left them as they began packing up, getting ready to move on to where they would prepare the feast later...
We headed back to the Lodge, each caught up in our own thoughts and images of the afternoon adventure. We would leave the next morning, but have often chatted since about that young family. The closeness they shared, and their experience on the edge.
I do hope that you aren't offended by the photograph of the fish. To me it is a symbol of sharing skills, of family learning - teaching children what it means to catch your own food, to have respect for the fish, and be grateful there are fish that people can eat still. It speaks of togetherness. Of the bounty of Mother Earth. Of the joy of being a family.
That those who live in these remote villages also have ways of surviving in this beautiful and rugged land, made me feel humble. My life is so easy compared to theirs.