Do you copy? Get ready to jump


In the spring, when the sea ice came in, it was like liv­ing in a freezer. The for­tu­nate thing for us kids was, back then, we didn’t know what a freezer was.

Some­times, the ice floes would freeze to­gether from one side of the har­bour — even from one side of the bay — to an­other. It was a good place to play hockey if the ice pans were frozen to­gether and if you could find a pan large enough.

But you had to be fast. Out­port kids knew that salt wa­ter ice didn’t last long once it started to come apart — it was mere min­utes some­times — be­fore you were stand­ing on a sin­gle float­ing pan of ice and al­most al­ways, some dis­tance from shore.

But, when the ice floes did sep­a­rate into in­di­vid­ual pans, that was a whole new and dar­ing sport — copy­ing, or clumper jumpin’.

Copy­ing was best car­ried out on the high tide. The ris­ing wa­ter lifted the pans off the bot­tom and set them afloat. We would all run to the near­est flake and grab a lunger each. Ac­tu­ally, they were “ longers,” but “ longers” takes longer to say even though the same num­ber of let­ters are em­ployed; lungers it is.

Sav­ing time, or at least not wast­ing it, on mak­ing words longer than they needed to be, seemed im­por­tant when we were young and on a mis­sion. A lunger? Oh, just a long pole of dried wood used as a floor for the flake, upon which salted fish were placed to dry. I thought you knew; sorry.

The ob­jec­tive of copy­ing var­ied with the crowd you were with.

“Lets go out as far as the sec­ond Whaler.”

“ See who can get to the ridge first.”

“ Let’s see if we can find the wreck of the old Duchess.”

“ Let’s all get on that ice pan there and see if we can make it to the is­land.”

The ob­jec­tive de­cided, the fun be­gan. The Brits call it punt­ing, but what do they know? Some even call it raft­ing, but we rafted too and this wasn’t it. We were copy­ing. You would pole your pan of ice as fast as you could and, as soon as you got close to an­other pan of ice that was nearer the ob­jec­tive, you were al­lowed to jump unto it and be­gin poling anew.

If your pan of ice hap­pened to break into two or more pieces you had to be quick to de­cide where to jump next to keep from get­ting wet. Ev­ery­one re­ferred to it as get­ting wet. With ocean tem­per­a­tures at about 2 or 3 C at that time of year, “ wet” was a ju­ve­nile eu­phemism for “drowned,” though no one ever was.

Some would take off their lo­gans, leave them on the beach and copy in their sock feet. This was not as bad as it sounds since most ev­ery­one wore two or three pairs of home­made, wool socks at that time of year.

Once the outer layer of socks got damp, they would freeze to the ice just enough to give you a much bet­ter grip than lo­gans ever could. The other, and main ad­van­tage, was that if you did hap­pen to get just your feet wet, you could still go home with dry out­side footwear and par­ents would al­most never know the dif­fer­ence, at least for sev­eral min­utes.

As with most of our ad hoc sports, copy­ing was ter­mi­nated ei­ther by:

• reach­ing rarely;

• some adult threat­en­ing to tell our par­ents — some­times;

• wind and/or heavy seas — fre­quently; or

• by dark­ness — al­most al­ways.


ob­jec­tive —

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