Tri-County Vanguard : 2018-12-05

OP-ED : 17 : C1


TRI-COUNTY VANGUARD WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2018 community C1 D4 TINA COMEAU REGIONAL Honestly, how does the cat know it’s dumping day? One thing about Smokey, he’s consistent. He usually wakes me up every morning at about 5:40 a.m., but not today. Today he’s meowing in my face at 4:13 a.m. It’s just as well. I had my alarm set for 4:30 a.m. to get ready to head to the wharf in Pinkney’s Point, Yarmouth County. The lobster season in southwestern N.S. – and in our case LFA (lobster fishing area) 34 – was starting at 6 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1. We’d all be heading to the wharf at 5 a.m., except for my husband Greg, who was gone before my alarm was set to go off. I’m pretty sure he barely slept all night, whereas I got a hardy four-and-a-half hours of sleep after driving home the night before from a high school hockey tournament in Berwick to be home for dumping day morning. Except for me, our two cats and our rabbit, everyone else in my household – which includes my husband and my two sons Jacob and Justin – were heading out to sea on dumping day. In my house leading up to 5 a.m., we’re all in various stages of “gearing up” to head to the wharf. I’m putting a fullycharged battery in my camera and making room on my memory card to take lots of photos. Jacob is packing a bag of clothes (they won’t be home for days). Justin is packing his stuff and making his breakfast, on the wrong setting. Burnt toast it is. Jacob’s girlfriend Emmy has made the trip from her home in Wolfville to experience dumping day. A Valley girl, this is her first time watching the boats leave. I notice before we leave the house she’s not wearing any socks. “Your ankles will be cold,” I tell her, as I try to find her a pair of socks that match. We pile into my car and I start to back out of the driveway when I realize I forgot my phone. I open the door of the car to get out, but the car is still going backwards. “Why are we moving???!!!” I shout out. “Because you’ve got the car in reverse,” Justin points out. Obviously, I’m not fully awake. Is it just me, or does dumping day start way too early? I grab my phone and get back in the car telling Justin to select a specific song from my playlist for the drive to the wharf. “You have a theme song for the drive to the wharf?” he asks. (Well, yeah, I think to myself, shouldn’t everybody?) The song I’ve selected is called A Little Peace by MILCK. The lyrics fill the car: ‘Oh-oh-oh, ohoh-oh,’ All I need is a little peace . . . A little peace.” It’s the feeling I’m aiming for today. I don’t want to be nervous. I don’t want to be worried. I don’t want to be thinking about how dangerous and risky the first day of the season is. I’m not sure a three-minuteand-21-second song can negate all this, but I’m willing to try. more people have arrived at the wharf. There are wives, girlfriends, siblings, parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, sons and daughters. There’s even a family dog. We situate ourselves on the wharf and wave to all of the boats as they pass by with many people shouting out, “Good luck! Stay safe!” This is a scene that is repeating itself at wharfs all over southwestern Nova Scotia and along the province’s south shore. With close to 1,700 boats heading out to sea – with crews of three to five people on each boat as the season starts – there’s very few people in this part of the province who don’t have a direct, or at least an indirect, tie to this fishery that is so important to the economy – and not only to the economy of the region, but to the province as well. During last year’s season preliminary figures from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans say that 31,863 tonnes of live lobster was landed in LFAs 33 and 34 for a landed value of approximately $502 million. The fishery has sustained the economy and communities for a long time. And yet sometimes when someone asks, “What does your husband do?” or “What does you son do?” the response is sometimes, “He just fishes.” Of course, the word ‘just’ should never be in that sentence. We’d never say someone is just a farmer, or just a teacher, or just a businessman. Not even just a newspaper editor. As we pass the cemetery in Pinkney’s Point I give two toots of my horn. “That’s for Grandpere Surette,” I tell the boys. This is the second dumping day without my father-in-law Henry since he died. I think about all of the decades he was on the boat. In a way, he’s still making the trip. The scary part comes from looking at the boats loaded with traps and gear. I can see that Emmy, my son’s girlfriend, is feeling anxious. And so I speak reassuring words to her. Jacob’s dad, I tell her, has been fishing for more than 30 years and they’ve never had an incident on dumping day. I offer a comforting smile. She returns a nervous one. Still, even I can’t divert my eyes away from these fullyloaded boats wondering how you can possibly fit all that gear and people too. I tell my son Justin to make sure he wears his lifejacket. He tells me this is the 135th time I’ve reminded him. He’s exaggerating, of course. I’ve probably only mentioned it 126 times. AT THE WHARF We arrive at the wharf and the air feels picture-perfect calm. The season that should have started Monday is getting underway on Saturday due to a week-long weather delay. I’m thankful to those who made that decision. Today is a good day. The harbour is filled with boats that are loaded with traps and gear, with the lights from the boats reflected on the water. It’s both beautiful and scary. MORE LOVED ONES ARRIVE As time passes, more and

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