Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Royal Introduction: The Legacy

The Legacy

First of all, I cannot begin to describe and explain who I am without sharing with you the history of our royal family.

Go back seven generations on my mother's side and you will find fish in our blood. My grandfather was a fisherman, as was his father, and his before that. They all went to sea to pull their livelihood from the water onto the decks of their boats. They all braved the elements and risked their lives to support their families in the only true way. See, we come from a place where you are either a fisherman or a fisherman's wife. That's just the way it is. 

However, having fish in your blood is not enough to make you royalty. If that were the case, everyone in town would claim a title for themselves. No, it also takes a kingdom. 

More than 30 years ago my father married into our fishy blood. He came from away and courted a fisherman's daughter. He also courted her father, working as a deck hand on his boat and proving his worth. After they married they moved far away, forsaking family tradition. But before too long they found themselves back home. You always come back. When you have fish in your blood, the Sea sings to you. She calls you back home, like the sirens of old. You always return. That's just the way it is. 

My dad scalloping
Upon returning, my father joined the service of the sea as, first, as scallop diver and then later an urchin diver. My mother, too, joined the ranks; not as a fisherman but as a purveyor of the Sea's wares. Together, my parents built a kingdom forged on the foundation of our bloodline. 

At the height of Maine's urchin gold rush, my parent's were one of the largest buying stations in the state. She bought and sold thousands of pounds of the spiny echinoderms every day. She had a fleet of several dozen boats who brought to her their daily catch in exchange for fair prices and free soda and hot dogs. In those days, even for the most inexperienced, a day's labor would mean $1,000. 

But, like any boom, there is eventually a bust. For hundreds of years the sea has been treated like a limitless source of life and wealth. But, today, we know that not to be true. Anyone that says otherwise shall be decried a heretic. Those of us with fish in our blood, have seen the truth and bore witness to the collapse of our industries. My grandfather saw the end of the cod; my father, the urchin.

But the kingdom had already been built and as we watched the fall of one era we prepared for another. The urchin buying station was transformed into a lobster wharf and then, shortly thereafter, we expanded from wholesale to retail. We are tough; made of salt and wind, rock and ice. We stumble and we fall like any other, but we get back up and keep going or else you drown. That's just the way it is. 

To Be Continued . . .