Rougher than Nova Scotia, worse than Maine,
Newfoundland Novembers are brutally cold.
Yes, Haligonians and Mainers will protest,
But they forget heartbreaks of Grand Banks,
Pitching foam-streaked waves, fog obscuring
Morning sun on wind-bent hostile seas.
Such were early lessons of young men and
Women, who helped push open dories from
High-sloped ramps, who motored on cold
Avalon bays, until shrouded land was lost,
Tedious hours amongst fog and ice, pride of
Sea-going independence, risking desolation.
Perils of Newfoundland cod fishers, tending
Traps or jigging fifty-meter deep bays, enough
Line out to tire from repeated jig pulls, joys
Catching one more cod, flop-thudding in the
Boat, a locker full to make weekly meals, to
Help neighbors, cod splitting and drying.
Late fall marks fishing dark-to-dark, up early,
frost-glittering boats, first skiff of snow, shore
Lights receding, mast-mounted lanterns, fog
Wisps streaming past spotlight beams. Yet,
Fishers knew their course, time, speed, and
Headings out and back to waiting families.
Precious as Damask Rose, these passages reflect
Childhood days, salty sagas of cod fishermen
Recounted on net-mending autumn afternoons,
Crackling spruce-wood fires, coffee and whisky,
Cigarettes and pipes, pungent smoke, memories
Rekindled lighting hearth fires this morning.
Video: Cod fishing off Toogood Arm, Newfoundland with “Cape St. Mary’s”
playing in the background.
About 200 km north of St. John’s, Cape St. Mary is a seabird preserve.