Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Kitchen Partyin' in Keels

The makings of a delicious meal. Photo: Kristin Catherwood

In my previous two posts, I wrote about the differences and similarities I’ve been finding between fishing life in Keels and farming life in my home province of Saskatchewan. I may have found many similarities, and have felt very at home in Keels’ small town community, but I’m always aware of how very far away from home I am. The distance seems especially great on certain days, and none moreso than on my birthday. Fortunately, the weekend of my birthday ended up being full of good times and good people. We worked all weekend, but that didn’t stop us from letting our hair down after hours, especially on Saturday night when we bade farewell to Dr. Guha Shankar.

We made a group meal of fish chowder with freshly caught cod, courtesy of John Ducey, and a vegetable soup. Everyone contributed their bit to the meal, though most of the credit goes to Erin and Claire for the bulk of the ingredients and preparation. It was a fabulous meal, made even better by the congenial company of erudite folks. All in all, I think it was pretty close to a good ol’ fashioned kitchen party. 

Homemade seafood chowder with everyone's new best friend, cod. Photo: Kristin Catherwood 

Though it wasn’t officially my birthday yet, the celebratory air really made me feel better about turning the big 2-4. After the party moved from our house, things got a little wilder (though “wild” by folklorist standards may be fairly tame). Dr. Pocius has already described the events of our induction ceremony in excruciating detail, so I won’t comment on that, but let me just make one thing clear: I was coerced into everything, especially donning the “sou’wester.” A few hours after the induction, we had to wake up and venture out into the cold and wind.

 I was pretty homesick on my birthday, and it didn’t help that I had my first taste of nasty Newfoundland weather that day. We spent most of the day standing outside in the cold and wind learning how to measure buildings, the details of which you can read about it in a previous entry. I had been really hoping to have a bonfire that night to celebrate both my and Alicia’s birthday, but the weather did not cooperate. So, by about 9 o’clock, I was starting to throw myself a pity party.

Then, Ed and Meghann came in, and we chatted a bit. I was checking the fire, and telling Ed about the nuances of fire tending when I walked into the kitchen to be greeted by all of the KFS crew who immediately started singing “Happy Birthday” and presented me with glowing candles on top of a blueberry cheesecake. It was a wonderful end to what had been turning into a woebegone evening. Although I was far from home, and my family, I realised that I was surrounded by friends, a new family of sorts. We’ve only known each other (with the exception of Jerry and Meghann) for a couple of weeks, but already I feel a bond forming among all of us. Experiences like the one we’re having in Keels have a habit of creating long-lasting friendships, but what’s special about our group is that all of us are part of that. We are a community. It is early days yet, and there is still the likely possibility of a few frayed nerves and some temper flare-ups, but I honestly believe that since we survived 10 hours of metadata for three days straight, we can make it through anything.

Thank you so very much to Alicia, Claire, Ed, Erin, Jerry, Meghann, and Noah for making my birthday so special. 

There's a quote written on the plaque which can be seen to the left of this photo 
which reads something like: "Of all the places I entertain, my guests seem to like 
my kitchen best." That was certainly true on Saturday night in Keels. Photo: Kristin Catherwood

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