Tuesday, 1.24.05: Lobsterman's Hut
Another orphan was adopted late Sunday night -- happily sent back to its community of origin.
My darling in need of a home was a 19th century photo by George Washington Wilson, a Scot who worked out of Aberdeen in the 1870s and 80s. It was a large format photo* of a formidable landscape with a small figure in the center, labeled "Lobster Fisher's Hut." I had first rehabbed the photo 20 years ago. It was someone's discard that I'd carefully matted and offered for sale. Last week it was still sitting in our "For Sale" bin, the one at the back of the ground floor closet.
Selling something -- having to write a description -- forces you to look at it. I had always seen the leather-faced lobsterman, but it took me by surprise when I realized the pile of what looked like peat bricks was actually his hut. There, on his left, was the door. His hut was dug right into the ground -- like a Hobbit's.
Makes you think, doesn't it, about the lives of people -- people who work hard and live humbly. I remember reading My Antonia by Willa Cather and being horrified that people on the Great Plains of North America built their homes like this -- windowless and below grade -- to protect against the harsh winters. Thinking about my lobsterman, living through dark winters on the rocky coast of Scotland, I shiver.
For seven days I feared my little treasure would remain unwanted, but at the last second a bid came in: $19.95. From Aberdeenshire, Scotland. My lobster fisher was going home. No one was ever so excited to make twenty bucks.