Nearly every morning I walk down the sea path and encounter a solitary man, stuffing mackerel and herring into mesh bags. He’s a heck of a nice guy and always has time for a chat with tourists who are curious about what he is doing.
This morning, at 5:00 a.m. I found him sheltering from the rain and donning his oilskins. A smile creased his face, weathered by years of salt, wind, and sun, “Hey kid,” he said, “you’re late this morning.”
Surrounded by huge plastic boxes filled with herring and mackerel, he’s the man behind the lobster scene. The unsung hero of local lobstermen who idle their boats alongside the wharf to pick up boxes upon boxes of lobster bait. Without bait, no lobster on your plate.
The mackerel and herring (already dead) are stuffed into mesh bags (called “bait bags”) and placed inside the lobster trap to entice the clawed delicacies to enter. While lobsters prefer live food, they are not above looking for an easy meal of dead fish.
I asked how many bait bags he fills a week. 3500. From April until sometime in November, through rain, fog and the not frequent enough sunshine, he stands there, stuffing bag after bag so the lobstermen can do their thing. He starts his work day at 4: 00 a.m. and doesn’t quit ’til it’s done.
From a lifetime of working outdoors, he predicts the weather with amazing accuracy and is teaching me all. For example: southerly wind predicts fog and rain. He’s given me a meteorology project: the number of snow storms can be predicted by the number of foggy days in August, “Just you keep track and see” (and I will keep track, just you wait and see). He’s also the guy who informs me everytime I have missed whales playing right off the wharf.
In the distance the faint rumblings of a lobster boat making its approach, voices of the crew float through the dense fog, and the time for chit chat is over for another day.