The Fishing Village
The Fishing Village
By Tony DeLorger © 2011
The fog heavily rests upon town, etching light through small passages of hope, waking the feathered nocturnal ones, like fluffed balls clawed on damp bark branches. Their eyes unwilling to meet day, they squeak like rusty hinges as if to mournfully refuse.
A solitary truck backs up at the wharf, its mechanical splutter echoes in the cove. Houses like dots of light stir for approaching day, the inhabitants dusting themselves off, kicking the cat to wake, the hiss of kettles bright.
On the water the boats rock a lullaby, ropes old and feathered creak, taut lines holding the crusty fleet in neat lines. Lapping water syncopated in a cacophony of sound whirls around the dock, while bearded men of salt prepare for launch, check nets. The sweet smell of petrol wafts by, while the pumps rattle in a rhythmic throw as boats come to life.
The fog rises a little, no more than a foot overhead. It floats like a white band of sky, light flickering now and then. Heavy rubber boots stride the wharf, sun ravaged and splintered, voices suddenly breaking the serenity, morning chatter and hopeful catch. Then, in perfect time the engines rumble and pipes splutter. One by one the fleet creeps out toward the deep, their masts cut short by fog. The trails of foam, white and concave slowly form into one as the horns sound in the cove like well-wishes.
In the cobblestone streets of the village shop keeps sweep the steps, their brooms like thrashing wheat stalks. Doorbells sound with high-pitched tinkles as the front doors are swung open to stack produce and grain sacks on the pathway.
The fog is now dissipating, the suns streaming down on a warm summers morn. Slapping shoe leather on stone increases as villagers alight with baskets to fill. Morning greetings turn to chatter, the womenfolk sharing their fishing lives, their drunken husbands Friday nights and children deeds.
Deliveries are noted, sacks are stacked and bacon wrapped. The general store is a hive of activity, while Henry the store parrot squawks for attention. Mothers sort bolts of fabric while children beg for sweets and Henry will not shut up. The old wooden floor gnarled and supple bends under weight as villagers shuffle through barrels and crates.
Down Baxter’s Lane the smell of fresh baked dough draws the villagers from Main Street, and a sprightly queue begins, the aroma too much for any to resist. Bread cakes and pies wrapped in crisp white bags fly out from the bakery, their irresistible smell guiding even more patrons to the lane.
Raspel Scott the milko, is on his rounds, the sound of milk swishing in the metal containers on the cart, stop and start as Betsy pulls over and resumes her ride. She knows every cobblestone, every doorway, and her hooves are like counted steps to the next delivery. The soothing clatter of her hooves is like music.
Birds are now awake and darting in and out of the old fig trees behind Main Street, their chirping and playful banter a backdrop to the village bustle. By the wharf, the fishmongers are busy preparing for the incoming catch. Tubs and blocks of ice are organised and distributed in the work area. Benches are washed down and knives sharpened, the cold rooms cleared out and ready.
Down at the end of the wharf a young lad sits staring out to sea, dreaming of the day he too will join the boats and pray for a lively catch. His skinny legs dangle from the wharf, the beckoning water below him. He can smell that call of the salt and can see that look on his fathers face returning with a plentiful catch. He’ll stand at the prow of the boat, one arm on the mainstay rope, the other waving proudly. It is a man’s world, the boy thinks and grins.
A village day just seems to disappear when the boats are out. All do their work, clean and organise life but minds are always on the boats, the catch. Wives long for their husbands return, sons sit in school and look wistfully out the window, dreaming of the sea and that knowing smile from their father.
At dusk and as the first boat is sighted, a loud horn resounds in the cove, signalling return. The villagers all eyes to the sea, from windows, shops and on the street, they stand still, a quick prayer for a safe return. When they dock the village will be a hive of organised chaos and working well into the night another day will eventually come to a close. Until at first light the sea once again calls her disciples to work. But until then the fog slowly roles in like a blanket around the village; above, the stars like jewels look down, ever vigilant.