Writer’s Block: Caplin Day in the Cove

An an­nual fish­ing tra­di­tion draws ea­ger chil­dren to New­found­land’s South­ern Shore

More of Our Canada - - Content - by Heather Barnes,

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

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