from Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Lunenburg Harbour

So nice when a place lives up to its billing as a wonderful little spot. Such is Lunenburg. It’s a fishing town, both historic and active. Our lodgings are right on the harbour, with its perfect blend of tourist-y stuff — including lots of nice restaurants — and working fisherman.

As a young Midwesterner I had a sea shanty phase, where I listened to folks songs sung by growly old men about sailing tasks I did not comprehend. Wouldn’t it be glorious to be at sea?

Of course, learning a little about fishing on the Grand Banks and walking through the Fisheries Museum and old ships reminds me what a tough life commercial fishing is. “We’re all workaholics here,” said one guide, talking as she knitted woolen socks. “There’s always something to do.” And I’m reminded of the movie “Perfect Storm” — same fishing culture, only in Gloucester, Massachusetts. The business induces craziness, the need to push the limits a little farther than it’s safe — disaster, then mourning, then mythologizing.

I overheard a local explaining to someone about the fish harvest coming and going, rising and falling, and wondering vaguely about global warming. He sounded exactly like Robert Shaw’s Sam Quint in Jaws. I wonder if Shaw came here to learn the lilt and rhythms of the Nova Scotia seaman.

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