Sunday, September 12, 2010
Met a very interesting woman on this last trip to Prince Edward Island (PEI).
Her name is Anna Coffin. She is a fisherman/person/woman.....fisher. She is about 80 years old and lives 'on her own' in an old farm house.
I had to talk with her son who looks after my nephew's cottages. He wasn't around. I knew his mother lived up the road, so I went looking for her.
She wasn't in the house. I noticed a light on in the shed and I headed in that direction.
I could see an older person bent over a worktable. I knocked on the shed door and she waved me to come in.
I introduced myself and told her I was looking for her son. She said that he was away that afternoon and she would give him the message.
As soon as I entered the shed I couldn't help but notice what Anna was doing. She was building lobster traps........from scratch!
I often wondered where these traps came from........thinking they were manufactured in some huge lobster trap factory somewhere. But no. Fisherman usually make their own! Go figure.
I was totally blown away by the fact of what this woman was doing by herself. So the questions started to come out of my mouth one after another:
Are you doing this by yourself ?
How long have you been making traps?
Where do you get the parts?
Do you make your own weight molds?
Did you learn from your husband?
How do you pick these things up?
How long would a trap last?
Well, she giggled at every question I had for her, but was patient and showed us how it was done.
I tried to move just the bottom section with the weights on it......could barely lift it!
She does get a couple of the 'parts' already made......like the bows. They have to be especially strong and well-made to endure the beating they get in these waters.
But Anna has everything in her shed that she needs to make new traps.....including a little wood stove for those very cold winter months. She also repairs her old traps there.
Since her husband died about five years ago, Anna does it all herself.
She does have the help of her sons and grandsons during lobster season on her boat.
Meeting Anna was the highlight of this trip to PEI for me. It made me think of the people who live here year-round and carve out a living from either the soil , the ocean and sometimes both.
Meeting Anna made me think about my grandmother, Mary Anne MacDonald who also was born in PEI. She wasn't a fisherman or even a farmer for that long (she was a farmer till she moved away at age 19) but she came from a very similar 'stock' of people.
They have this hardiness about them. They work(ed) very hard and have no time to think about anything other than what they have to do to stay alive.
It made me very proud to have the chance to spend a little time with Anna. I felt as if I was in the presence of a dying breed of human being.