Articles Index/Norfolk Tales
Harry was a great fisherman, on a persistent mission: to catch a fish -- just one fish. He spent many serious hours at this endeavor, knee deep in lakes, rivers, and streams, carefully inspecting the water, waiting for that one, unsuspecting fish. His technique was simple; if he waited long enough, and stood absolutely still -- that fish would decide to stop and rest beneath his dripping chin. At that moment, he would plunge his head into the water with lightning speed, eyes wide, jaws open, (salivating at the thought of a trout dinner) and with incredible adeptness, pluck his prey from the murky depths! Unfortunately Harry's efforts were continuously thwarted and those wily trout never seemed to cooperate.
As his best friend, and a fellow fisherman, I went to great lengths to assist Harry in his quest and the summer of 1995 found us in the Canadian Maritimes and the northernmost tip of the island of Newfoundland in search of the perfect fishing experience. There, after a harrowing car crash which left us stranded as the guests of a family of fishermen, we took up our mission in earnest. Our hosts, a family of seven brothers and their mother, lived in the tiny village of Noddy Bay, population 35, including dogs. The brothers were all fishermen and had their own wharf. This ancient, encrusted, and somewhat shaky structure became one of our favorite places, for it was there that the fishing boats were kept. With the absence of any canoes (our own had been mashed in the accident), these boats were of great interest to Harry.
We would watch them leave early in the morning and be there to greet them on their return. This was Harry's favorite time of day, when the boats returned laden with the day's catch. Once the boats were docked and unloaded, Harry could investigate for clues of their catch. Meanwhile the brothers would sit on crude log stools around a large wood table, talking in their thick accents, sorting, cleaning, and filleting their catch -- tossing the unwanted parts across the deck of the boat and into the clear, frigid waters where scavenger fish would pick at the remains, carefully observed by a thoroughly intrigued Harry.
Amused by Harry's deep appreciation for "things fishy," the brothers often invited us to go fishing. After hours of patiently waiting, on sometimes turbulent seas, the nets would be hoisted and the fun would begin. Harry and I would watch as each foot of net spilled forth a myriad of creatures to be sorted, saved or tossed by the agile hands of the brothers. In my arms and well out of works way, Harry would squirm furiously, trying to get closer to the endless flow of slippery eels, barnacle clad shells, spiny urchins, and fish of all shapes and sizes. He was fascinated and frustrated not to be a part of it all.
One day in his exuberance, he wriggled free from my arms and landed on the deck to tackle a four foot sand shark that had been carefully extricated from the nets. I watched anxiously, and the brothers cheered as Harry cavorted with the writhing beast, growling and barking. He lunged and was thwacked on the nose by its powerful tail, which knocked him dumbfounded and soured his appetite for shark. The whole village was talking about his courageous battle all the next day.
Harry quickly bounced back, and his diligence finally paid off toward the end of our stay, during the running of the capelin. Capelin are a herring-like smelt, which appear annually in great schools and make a mad rush for the beach at low tide, hurling and wriggling themselves up onto the sand to mate, before being carried back to sea at high tide. It is a secret ritual for the capelin, which usually occurs after dark and only once or twice in a three week period. I was hoping we would get to see this exciting phenomenon for Harry's sake. Sure enough, late one night a neighbor pulled up in his truck, yelling the capelin had landed! We were there in minutes.
It was the moment Harry had been waiting for all his life and neither of us could believe our eyes! There were thousands upon thousands of capelin on the beach. People were starting to arrive with buckets and bags, scooping the fish into the backs of pick-up trucks by the shovelful to eventually use as fertilizer or salt and dry for the winter. In the moonlight, Harry raced down to the beach at full tilt. He charged through the piles of squirming fish, barking, grinning, and chomping on them. He raced back to me with three, maybe four of these silvery six inch fish hanging from his mouth. He gave a fierce shake of his head, running and hopping like a mad bunny in utter delight. He had finally caught a fish -- and not just one, but HUNDREDS!
Harry raced back and forth along the beach, barking at the other "fishermen" in a frenzy, taking in the whole scene, and grinning from ear to ear as if to say, "I caught them all ... they are mine ... will you look at what I've done!" Rolling in the sand, and then scampering in the tide, corralling the rapidly depleting piles of fish, Harry was one happy dog and I knew he had had his day.
Zebedee Wee Brun Dug "Harry" 6/11/91 - 9/24/97
Ch. Zebedee Trust and Obey x Ch. Zebedee Rejoice Evermore
Breeder: Melanie Wallwork - Owner: Amy Harny
ANTIC, March, 1998
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