Me, I live somewhere, as we all do, but I don't have a Home. As a navy brat, impermanence was the one constant in my young life. That restless trajectory continued until we bought a place we planned to settle in. Been here 25 years this Spring which is more than half my adult life. Our neighbours are sheep-farmers, all getting on in years, and a generous handful of tree-huggin' blow-ins like ourselves. The farmers are all getting on in years because very few youngsters want to stay in the valley delivering lambs and shearing ewes and sheltering in the lee of a hedge when a squally shower passes through. There are easier ways of making a living; even stacking shelves in Tesco yields more ready money than farming, let alone accountancy, banking, computers or dentistry.
As it happens there are two teenagers in the community who love the farming life with all its challenges and coups and want to live in the valley forever. Last year, I was appointed Heritage Liaison Officer for our hill and my unpublished report became a blueprint for creating a fulfilling income stream that might support these chaps in their choice of holding the fort, keeping a candle in the window of our community while 'most everyone leaves. If nobody repairs the thatch, there's no place to return to come Christmas. Blueprint would be far too grand for the clatter of half-ideas which I committed to paper. And don't get me wrong, farming is, so, a fulfilling life . . . it's just that the goddam income streams into other pockets.neighboured previously] off the N Shore of Newfoundland.
All the shoreline communities in Newfdl, except St.John's, are called outports and they all depended on the fishing . . . until they didn't. Rapacious multinational greed and a disastrous fisheries policy implemented by the Ottawa government succeeding in killing almost every fish between the coast and the 200 mile economic exclusion zone. In the first half of the 20thC, Canadian boats were landing half a million tonnes of fish each year. But the model didn't scale up, between 1950 and 1980, huge factory ships from Europe and North America stripped the ocean floor of more and more bottom-feeding fish. Peaking in 1968, the cod fishery collapsed to 13,000 tonnes in 1996: about 1% of the heyday landings. Around that time Cobb père went fishing all day and returned with one fish.
The cod did come back, not like they ever were in the before times [swarming with fish, which could be taken not only with the net but in baskets let down with a stone, so that it sinks in the water] but fished from the depths on long-lines by members of the Shorefast Trust, and sold for good money [check the Economic Nutrition Label! 69% of the value is pumped back into the Fogo community] to discerning codophiles. That's got to be better than setting up a call-centre handling angry bank customers from Toronto. Ireland is particularly rich in call-centres full of min.wage workers who are kept from natural light for 9 hours every day.
Fogo is a long long way from here. Our teenage boy farmers aren't going long-lining in the R Aughnabriskey which bisects the valley and I don't see either of them as sous-chef in The Ringstone Resort Hotel . . . but something could be done that was fit for purpose in this our own community; with all its quirks and foibles and awash with social capital. Maybe it's time I came home.
Lynx: revitalizing Fogo Island Part 1 - Part 2. The Crisis of Belonging [Walrus transcript]
The Lock-keeper by Stan Rogers, reflects on the differing world-views of home-bodies and rovers Read The Lyrics:
But that anchor chain's a fetter
And with it you are tethered to the foam
And I wouldn't trade your life for one hour of home