Saturday, June 26, 2010


Bycatch refers to things you get when fishing that aren't what you intend to catch. For me, it consists of snails, baby crabs, codfish, pickerel, flounder that shoot off like the Millenium Falcon when you throw them back, a plastic Bart Simpson head, strawberry jelly squeeze bottle, a full 12 ounce Bud Light and lots of kelp.

I'm squeamish about terms like "self-discovery," or "personal journey," so maybe I should call it "doing something to see what happens." From there, we get to some bycatch.

I've made lots of righteous declarations about the zero carbon lobster project being about energy and food and economics; being about ancestral wisdom, wooden boat evolution and the natural beauty of the ocean. The agenda items that emerge as bycatch include:
a. doing something really nuts to find what I'm made of;
b. doing something really hard to see if I can;
c. discovering things about my relationships with family, friends, community and fishermen;
d. learning not to bail on a good idea even though a lot of experiences and experienced people try to persuade me to come to my senses;
e. Learning not to bail on myself when I've undertaken something really ambitious that isn't really working, but sort of is working, and even though I may be the only one who really believes.
f. Not wanting to turn into a crackpot/novelty act.
g. Being mentally prepared and alert enough to bail when it really is time. If it ever is.

Neighbors, friends and loved ones look at me with sympathy, bafflement, exasperation, worry, admiration, humor and that look that says "I give up- you'll just have to wise up on your own." I have a keener appreciation and gratitude for what people say, what they don't say, how much they care about me even if I seem to be endangering myself for an untenable dream. I am closer to me-good and bad. I'm much more in tune with the people around me. If nothing else the whole goose-chase is putting me more into the middle of my own life. But...

I write all this as though the whole thing is just an exercise in mid-life rebellion. I should also add that I am catching lobsters, I am listening to the fisher-voice inside and to fishermen on the island, I am learning to work the Sweet Pea in very close to the rocks in a variety of surf conditions, I've produced healthy food that saved a couple of dozen gallons of diesel fuel. I get to sail. I am building a model of a truly sustainable commercial fishing operation

It's small scale. It's very tough going. I don't have a reality show, Gatorade endorsement deal or an endowment from a railroad fortune. I do have stiff hands. Someone just pulled up on a Bobcat Excavator. Only so many suspects for that. I'll go check it out. 'Later.

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