Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cold Green Rings of Fire

Fishing culture seems to involve a lot of what I'd call preemptive pessimism. It's the opposite of pride going before a fall. If you think and talk gloomy enough, things may go OK. Much of my worry on the boat doesn't end up coming to pass. Other misfortunes come as complete surprises. I'll experience both sides of this mental dance before day's out.

With all the rolling and tumbling of finishing up my first hauling season and moving the family to North Haven and trying to find work for the winter, I wasn't looking forward to arriving back on Matinicus. We've had many stresses and lots of accumulated emotional baggage. The departure from our home was hasty. Items were unplugged, yanked out from their spots. Holes in the arrangement of things in the house. Dust bunnies let loose and running wild. Dishes on the counter. Petrifying leftovers in the fridge. It was going to be a sad, hard landing.

I had lots of dread over getting work done, getting paid, putting an end to a less than lucrative first year on my own boat, another open ocean crossing, only my third. As with almost all my anxieties, this round evaporated as soon as I got going on a gray, rolly-polly journey through unfamiliar narrows. I loaded a few groceries and some clean hauling clothes into the puffin, paddled out, got the Cummins purring like a giant cast iron pussy-cat, and beat the ferry down the Fox Island Thoroughfare.

I came to the end of Hurricane Sound. As soon as I saw Matinicus gray and indistinct in the soggy cold distance, I got happy. Strange thing to make a guy's spirit rise so.

The crossing went well, and I got straight into taking up traps. I coiled rope by the mile, stacked pots on the boat and got them offloaded onto the wharf as it was getting dark. Pride going before a fall is a common mental note of caution for me lately- for good reason.

I was all pumped up from having gotten 3 boat loads of gear taken up instead of the two I hoped for. I was all set to keep the train rolling, loaded one batch into the pick up truck, backed between the log pile and an extremely cantankerous crab apple tree soon to get a severe pruning after it snatched a trap and dropped it on my front windshield. I unloaded, hopped back in the truck, all action, and snapped the ignition key off.

No problem, I'll get the other one since both pieces came out. Hmm. Not in the key place. Maybe it's at Tom and Ann's place since that's where the vehicle lived before. Not on the peg board. Or the junk drawer. A call to the mainland. A couple more checks. No luck. The extra keys will come out on a plane tomorrow.

I'm shut down from trucking traps way before I've cleaned up the big pile on the wharf that's right in everyone's way. Well all right, I'll get supper. It's late anyway.

The feral cat eating my kelp from my hauling bag and I both jump when we discover each other in MY kitchen. I leave the door open and invite the creature with much profanity to leave while I run an errand. Critter's been in my house and unable to get out judging by a couple of piles and a knocked over jar of paintbrushes from a windowsill. Critter also shredded my loaf of bread, preferring a couple of small bites from each slice instead of, say, taking one slice and leaving the rest for me.

The next day is all town tax paperwork catch-up. The keys arrive with dusk and I haul all the traps back home, stack them in the yard and bring back the wet coils of rope. The coils explode in green bioluminescence each time I pick one up or drop it on the ground. Dazzling and cool. What a privilege to see this spectacle. It's great to be home.

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