“…we have salt in our blood,
in our sweat, in our tears.
We are tied to the ocean.
And when we go back to the sea…
we are from whence we came.”
– John F. Kennedy, 1962
I come from a small coastal town in Downeast Maine where many peoples’ lives revolve around the changing of the tide. Clams, lobsters, periwinkles, eels, scallops, and urchins are harvested throughout the year. Anyone who has ever had a family member on the water knows the chilling, eerie feeling that comes with every gust of wind or sign of storm.
The feeling isn’t unjustified as there have been 43 commercial fishermen lost at sea since 1993. With each devastating loss, the tight knit fishing communities of Eastern Maine are shaken.
The terrifying part of living in a fishing community is that most crews working on boats are part of the same family or close knit group of friends. Fathers work with sons, brothers work with brothers, neighbors work with neighbors. There is no fishing related accident that doesn’t hit too close to home. In the aftermath it’s impossible to push away the worrisome thought “it could’ve been my brother, husband, father, uncle, etc”.
When I went home to visit for Christmas, my mom and I drove to Pembroke to try to catch a glimpse of my brother and uncle dragging scallops. We walked an unplowed road that led to a beach, and stopped to listen to the low rumble of the motors and the distant hollering of the fishermen. We were able to catch a tiny glimpse of one of the many ways of life in Downeast Maine. Here’s to a safe fishing season in 2014!