truly of the sea and its seaweed and crustaceans. Part and parcel of the ‘make
a living’ selling fish and shrimp, and squid .Everything about the way of life,
coffee in the morning smelling of chicory and sea salt. Hardboiled egg and a
hardtack biscuit. Heavy on the black pepper and a little garlic if on hand.
Mending nets as the schooner set out to the reefs...shuttle in- hand and weaving back the holes the ocean
took from the last runs. The gulls and pelicans were the ever present pilferers
and begger vagabonds. Just a bit of fish Sir, one needs a small bit if ones to survive.
And galumph hard swallow when it’s tossed skyward, acrobatics for the prize and
then formation once again.
Picturesque in the morning pre-dawn light, Red in the Morning,
sailor...what was it...oh sailor take warning, Painted like the watercolors of
a true beach comber. Visual images of the Still Lives of the proud few who
still plied this trade and hoped beyond hope a son would carry the sea water in
his blood, one more, yes one more generation to the likes of Captain, nay
lubber and the hard way of the sailors and hands of the sloops and diesel engine
shrimpers of the Gulf Coast.
Gone is the time of masted ships and rigging to spin about the main sails and capture the sea breezes and not becalmed of a turn; a tack into the gentle breeze to speed the laying of the nets ...the cry shrimp on and the sails taut to the pull, lines dropped with skills that the fathers taught the sons, the grandfathers taught them.Buoy away and net in the schools and runs, times a wastin' son ..the first to lay the nets gets the run and the others a lookin for the tells. Woe be he who cuts the excluders , required now to test the patience and skill of even the best of the old salts. Shark meat was the fin cuts now used in the kitchens as clams or scallops or other sort of shell fish less likely due to the red tides and the slicks of the rigs leaking and blow outs.Estuaries and birthing grounds of the coastal marshes,brackish to over winter the sea birds and crustacians,crabs ever plentiful in the past are now just mostly a dream...What say you to the crabbers and shrimpers and redfish gleaners for trade and for license is pricy and hard fought...maintain your quota or loose next year come.
We sang the song of the trade by the moon...'Shrimp boats are a comin' their sails are in sight' Shrimp boats a comin' there 'll be dancin' tonite."