I tried to skip out on half of February by playing beachside bars, exploring reefs full of Pixar fish, driving on the lefthand side of the road and generally living as a drunken sailor on St. Croix. Many, many thanks to my host, chef, guide, booking agent, manager and good friend and honky-tonk piano dude, Tugboat Tommy.
Fishing looks similar in that the boats and gear are well worn and look dubious if you're seeing them for the first time. Fishermen go out in small boats with outboards and dive for conch and lobster. They sell by the side of the road or at parking lots right out of the boat on a trailer.
I had fresh coconut water, hydroponic lettuce, all manner of bananas, passion fruit, papaya and some kind of drink made from tree bark, all from the open air farmer's market. Curry, conch stew and collaloo came from out of the way places that had that authentic taste as though they found the perfect pans to cook in 30 years ago.
The trip seemed endless, but perversely made the stateside portion of my February seem 13 weeks long. We've had the most robust winter I can remember since President Carter was in office. Many of us are short tempered, swinging between furious busywork and apathetic lethargy. The year-round Matinicus Island lifestyle requires just a little too much together time, if you're asking me this week. And last week. We better turn the corner before we (I) go all Nicholson in The Shining.
The other side of the problem is that I feel I'm already late for the early summer fishing season. I added up all the rewiring, refinishing, repair and problem solving I need to do before the first trap goes over. Hard seeing all of that fitting in with town meeting to crunch numbers for, tax season, left over winter work and kids to enjoy. Last year I designed a solar charged winch rig to go with the rest of my quirky little fishing operation. One of many problems was that I did not know the first thing about solar technology or marine wiring. Aside from the occasional zing in my finger when the business got wet, there was the matter of it cutting out and not functioning. So I need to rewire the whole works and make it waterproof.
There are many other things that I limped by with last year that need to be refreshed or completely redone. Then there are 200 traps which were a little past their prime last year, rope to groom and buoys to paint. Safety gear that needs testing or replacement. All kinds of things I still don't know much about but will have to figure out, improvise or fake my way through. That sounds like life generally.
Winter needs to go. Spring needs to be long and slow. That's all I'm askin'.