Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Harbor Stories

Me taking advantage of "Messy Monday"
My favorite part of being outside the Children's Museum is observing all the different folks who use the board walk: business-people and interns from the Finance District on their lunch breaks, joggers and dog walkers, tourists speaking in an array of languages and accents, and of course families or caretakers visiting BCM with their kids. I like to imagine their stories, and sometimes people take the time to stop and tell me little tidbits of their lives. Today, for example, a well-dressed man who works in one of the skyscrapers across Fort Point Channel spent several minutes leaning against the railing and reminiscing about his own experience of the Boston Harbor as a child of eleven or twelve. Back then, he said, the water was too dirty to yield anything edible, but he fished just the same, with fifty-cent three-pronged hooks that he bought with his weekly allowance and tied to the end of a stick with whatever line was available. He didn't use bait, just waited for schools of fish to swim by under the surface and cast his makeshift rod in their midst. Anything he caught he tossed up onto nearby docks for the gulls, with the exception of eels, which, he told me, tangled in the line and had to be cut loose (an annoying waste of twine) or allowed to unwind themselves. I thought of the eel we reeled in last week, wriggling as we tried to set it free, and felt the bond of shared experience reaching across years and generations. The man, in his suit shirt and tie, pressed slacks and shiny black shoes, smiled as he thought back on hours spent on the harbor. He lingered there for a while before turning reluctantly back toward his office.

Kids as well as adults tell stories of crabbing excursions and fishing trips they've been on, and I continue to be amazed at all of the rich opportunities provided by the harbor. Then there are the kids who have always wanted to try fishing, and are now getting their first chance. I watch as they make new stories for themselves, and cheer when they pull up their line to find a crab clinging to the bait or a sea squirt dripping on the hook. I especially enjoy getting to know kids who return day after day, like the enthusiastic boy who has become steward of our crab trap and was excited to haul in over two dozen crustaceans, including a baby Spider Crab (pictured above). 

These are the memories created on slow, hot days, and I'm looking forward to uncovering more stories as the summer goes on.

Until next time!

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