Thursday, 27 September 2012

Ocean Goods

I love being on the water! Somehow, I manage to forget that love often, and go months or years without stepping foot in a canoe or boat. The fact that I'm not much into fishing--or fish--is partly to blame for that. My extensive reading in adventure stories and Reader's Digest real-life horror stories is also to blame for that.(I've definitely read enough terrifying accounts of freak accidents, drownings that shouldn't have happened, storms that weren't expected, waves taller than skyscrapers, angry/capricious sea-gods, disgustingly large fish [read: Jonah and the Whale] and badly timed undercurrents.)

Alicia (me) on the water--a little windswept

Photo: Alicia Farnham
But once I'm out there on the water my naturally fearful nature, like the stink of decaying fish, is blown away by that pure wind you only ever come by on an open body of water. It's a glorious feeling. It makes me feel invincible, like I'm accomplishing something magical--I'm on the surface of a liquid! And not just any liquid! It's sparkling in the sunlight, or shadowed in mysterious ways by a cloudy sky. It (generally) exudes latent power and strength; there's a mixture of adrenalin that I'm risking my life with such an unpredictable entity, and rush of freedom and camaraderie with the vast world around me. The last time I was on the ocean was two years ago, whale watching with many good friends on my birthday. The last time I was on any water at all was this summer, canoeing with my parents. Remembering these times, I'm amazed that I could forget how awe-inspiring and exciting it is to be on the water.

Yesterday, all of that came back to me, taking a trip out of Keels Harbour with June Fitzgerald and my fellow student, Kristin Catherwood. The intention was to jig for cod, since this week is the food fishery. I'm [only a little] sorry to say I soon lost interest in this particular ocean good. I couldn't help but feel bad for the stupid fish that swam so thickly below the surface of the water that they could be caught within seconds of lowering a line. They didn't even fight! But all of this was lost in my enjoyment of the boat speeding over the waves. It was a beautiful sunny day--so sunny it even got fairly warm on the water. The spray brought up by our boat cooled my face on occasion and the breeze whipped through my hair. It was a glorious feeling!

Being out on the water elicits something beyond freedom, something more like blissful trust in the elements. Having gradually gotten more and more panicked about the page-long list of things to do before Sunday morning, I felt like an hour-glass, the sands of stress gradually pouring out of me to be replaced by the empty gleefulness that comes from literally throwing my fears to the wind. What a cathartic experience for my last week in Keels!

And speaking of my last week in Keels, this happens to be my last scheduled blog post, so I want to take my last sentence to thank all the residents of Keels for their kindness and hospitality. Thanks for letting me (and my class) invade your home and helping us all learn the art of fieldwork! I've had a wonderful time!

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