Monday, November 21, 2005

A Sentimental Journey

I miss my time at sea and working at the fish cannery.

The little cannery where I grew up was run by a one-eyed Norwegian woman and was located right on the coast because that’s where the fish were. She took me in after the orphanage burned and I had nowhere else to turn because, in our village, there were no wolves to raise me as their own.

We produced 40 types of fish and seafood products, 15 types of preserves, as well as salted, smoked and dried fish, ready-made fish products and frozen fish. Strict quality control, high-quality packaging, high-quality taste and the introduction of new technology enabled us to achieve success in the domestic and international markets. I loved that old Norwegian woman.

And in the off season, we used to make sausages. Oh! How I remember when it came time to drown the pigs in sausage season! We’d drive them to the shore like lemmings and in they’d tumble. They’d kick at first, but they’d stop moving after a few minutes and we’d scoop them out and put them on the truck. And they’d make the best sausages you’ve ever tasted. Hoo-eee! Must have been the salt water.

I spent several summers on a whaling ship. Oh, that was a time! We’d spot an old humpback and run for the whaleboats. Some lucky fellow would get that whale with a harpoon, and off we’d go on a “Nantucket Sleigh Ride,” pulled along by that big old whale. He’d get tired after two or three hours, then we’d bring him on in and cut him up good. And he’d make the best sausages you’ve ever tasted.

One year I missed whaling altogether because I had crabs, but I don’t want to talk about that right now.

One time that old Norwegian lady got sick. Awful sick. I don’t know if she had tuberculosis or the plague or maybe she finally succumbed to fish lung — a lot of our boys got that — but, whatever it was, she was in a bad way. I’d been at the cannery shoveling fish guts when I got the word. By the time I got to her, she was just barely alive. We spoke for a while, her voice getting weaker and weaker. I held her hand all that night and into the next. Finally, that old Norwegian lady died. And she made the best sausages you’ve ever tasted!

I miss my time at sea and working at the fish cannery.

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