Writer’s Block: Caplin Day in the Cove
An annual fishing tradition draws eager children to Newfoundland’s Southern Shore
This annual Newfoundland tradition has everyone grabbing a bucket, and heading for the shoreline.
Awhite church with red shutters stands at the top of a hill overlooking the deep blue Atlantic Ocean. At night, curious neighbours can drive by and see lights dancing through its blue stained- glass windows. Inside, its high ceilings and pine-planked floors are home to Helen and Mike, an American couple who left their busy city life ten years ago to escape to the sheltered beauty of Admiral’s Cove on Newfoundland’s Southern Shore. They transformed a ramshackle church into an open- floored house right out of a luxury lifestyle magazine, complete with an artist’s studio, a greenhouse and a chicken coop, all with sweeping views over a rocky headland that falls into the glistening ocean.
This morning, standing on Helen and Mike’s faded grey deck are five neighbourhood children. A red- haired, freckle- faced boy named Tom stares at the calm ocean below and points, saying, “We’d better hurry! Look at the gulls! They’re going to beat us!”
In the distance, men, women and children with white buckets are scrambling down a rocky path to a pebble- stoned beach in the cove, which is alive with the sound of spawning caplins.
Helen, a curly- haired, sweet- faced woman with vivid blue eyes, opens the door. “Oh, you’re all here!” she says with a laugh, looking into the excited faces.
Helen and Mike, once strangers in this little bay, use their home as a gathering place for local children each June as the community joins in the traditional caplin haul. This annual event brings numerous families to the seaside to catch the spawning caplins—small, 20-centimetre fish that provide food and fertilizer for the community.
Helen can feel the children’s energy and see the enthusiasm in their smiling faces. John, an eight-year-old boy with dark Irish looks who lives in the faded green farmhouse at the end of road, hops from one foot to the other. Sharon, his bossy older sister, stares down at the activity on the seashore. She’s itching to go. Robert and Glenda Dalton live in the big yellow house at the entrance to Admiral’s Cove. They are both weighed down by empty white buckets once used for salt beef. Robert, tall and gangly, bangs the buckets on his leg. He looks like a young horse, jumpy and edgy, ready to run a race. Glenda, with her big blue eyes and straw-coloured hair, moves her buckets back and forth in the air.
Helen steps out into the sunshine and smells