February 21, 2009
“You like this wind?” Alex asked me as we fastened the boat trailer to my truck. “I guess we’ll see what it’s like on the other side when we get there,” I added. Although the west wind didn’t rough up the waters along Snug Harbor, we knew that the growout area, across the bay, would be a different story. But we had RTGs to get back on the bottom and a shitload of oysters to harvest for next week.
The wind did turn out to be a little brisk on the other side, but the dropping tide reduced the effect and we happily worked while passing stories back and forth. One of Alex's tales made me double over and stop breathing. Our system was predetermined: I hauled them up and Alex worked on culling - he had forgotten his skins (the bib outerwear) so he took the boring job today in order to stay dry (it may have been my turn anyway). But it was sunny and somewhat mild and moods improved as we worked. The stories included events from last night – Brooke and I hosted a long-lasting party and he attended one somewhere else with bizarre events taking place at both venues. So we compared notes, then our banter moved around in random direction. And at some point along the way a wave came up and knocked over a full crate of culled oysters - half of them back into the water. “Fuck!” yelled the now bearded Alex, several times. Then he kicked something. Then I yelled "Fuck!" a few times to make him feel better but he was still pretty angry. So I did a parody of Alex yelling all kinds of nasty curse words and then made some attempt at comforting the guy, not sure if I was making matters worse or better, as I intended. It may have worked because then I couldn't stop yelping curse words into the wind and eventually I noticed the smile return to my fellow oysterman's face (he had determined that my mind was lost). We did okay out there, despite the bumpiness, and completed perhaps half of our week's time on the water in a few hours.
Fish? One winter flounder visited us: 6” and shocked to see us. It was returned unharmed to the bay. A few small horseshoe crabs, one green crab (not looking good), and that is about it for wild life. There are still plenty of geese and ducks on the bay. In a couple/few weeks I expect to see a gannet or two, and then we’ll know that the winter is getting ready to leave for good.
Back at Matt. Court we ran into Jon Nash who quickly filled his bucket with our oysters and dashed off as promptly as he arrived. Also along the shore were Dicky Beers and Jake Emerson. The wind diminished as the last crate was offloaded and the boat was pulled out of the water. And it turned out to be a nice day. The sun was now getting low and the reds and blues were becoming sharper along the bay. The bottle of beer that Alex provided me from his truck went down well in my driveway as I unloaded my share of the catch. I paused, looked around at the colors of the marsh and the treetops and could feel the season changing. I am sure that we’ll have at least one more dump of snow this winter, but the days are now noticeably longer and the sun higher. Milder weather is here and probably to stay.
I can’t wait to go out for the first fish of the year. Does anyone out there remember the Gunster?