In The Merry Wives of Windsor Shakespeare wrote the line which we now commonly say, “the world is my oyster”. While an oyster looks hard to open, it isn’t all that hard when you know the trick…and sometimes there is a pearl inside.
Similarly, a good trip can hold a gem inside of it, sometimes more than one. How lucky the traveler is who has a wonderful experience and can recognize the pearl and cherish the memory
We found a pearl on a trip to Nova Scotia a few years ago and while there were mussels, we generally were eating as much lobster as we could on that trip. And while the gem was found in a kitchen, only fruit and cheese and crackers were served.
In searching for lodging for this leg of our trip, I had discovered a bed and breakfast that also had a sea kayak activity. After some email communication where the guide assured us that the water temperature was quite moderate because of the Gulf Stream, we reserved.
Graham and I decided to tandem; each of the kids took a single kayak and all was well for quite a while. Then we rounded an island and had a stiff headwind.
Lisa fell behind and Sam was also having some problems. The guide brought us into a cove and shuffled people around and Lisa found herself sharing a tandem kayak with a guy who had grown up in the area but had moved away. He was back for a family reunion and his childhood friend, Charlie, now a lobsterman, had joined him for this kayak experience.
Together, Lisa and I started talking about where we should go eat dinner and we teased Charlie that we’d eat at his house. In his Northeastern drawl he slowly said “Well, the Missus might not take to that so well, but we would be pleased to have you come by after your supper for a kitchen party.”
We found out from Lisa’s kayak mate Charlie’s favorite brand of spirits, and picked up a bottle of rum and then joined him, his wife and their daughter for several hours of music. Charlie writes poetry and had put much of it to music, playing some for us on his guitar. Graham and the daughter each kept the beat on their bodrans.
We learned about lobstering in Nova Scotia…how the license can cost over half a million dollars these days. The areas are assigned and different regions are harvested at different times, each for only 2 or 3 months of the year. Our lobsterman works terribly hard long days for those months and if the harvest is good, he is set for the year. If not, times are hard.
Individual lobsterman bring their catch to lobster pounds where the crustaceans are kept in salt water ponds fed by the ocean tide or in steel tubs keep at very low temperatures. The cold water keeps the lobsters alive for long periods of time, permitting the sales to outlets to occur the whole year.
So, in this one decision-to go sea kayaking-we earned several pearls. We learned we liked the activity and would do it again. We got a glimpse of the life of a lobsterman and better understand why the pricing is where it is. And we were invited into the home of a local Nova Scotian and shared some good music and fun around his kitchen table. A precious pearl to cherish.