Fishing and an Experience of the Heart

Fishing and an Experience of the Heart                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
by Bonnie Jarvis-Lowe
The rain stayed and stayed, it ran in little rivulets down the side of the windows, taking dust and debris as it went. When the showers stopped everything looked so fresh, smelled so wonderful, the greens so bright that it was difficult to stay angry at the rain. So it was time to settle down with a good book and forget that I had 15 fish waiting for me out there in the bay.

The suppertime news was hardly over when I heard the words, “Goin’ fishin’?”

That did it, I remembered the old saying “there’s no bad weather, only bad clothes!” So up I jumped, “Yes, yes, yes, I’m goin’ fishin.” And in five minutes or less I had on the rubber boots, bright yellow raingear, packsack stowed in garbage bags to keep everything dry. I was ready. Everything else was secondary, fishing time was here and that was the most important activity as far as I was concerned.

The little boat moved away from the wharf, the motor hummed and the salt water splashed in my face, mixed with the fresh water of the rain drops. It felt wonderful! In 10 minutes we were in our special spot and putting squid on the hooks, ready for an hour and a half of fishing. According to the tide times and the daylight left, that is all we had, an hour and a half, so we made the best of it.

In about 20 minutes the first cod was caught—a white bellied North Atlantic Codfish, a small whisker on its chin—and images of Cod au Gratin raced through my obsessed mind. I was so engrossed in fishing, baiting hooks, losing a big one and looking at the fish already onboard, I failed to notice that the rain had stopped. The water had become as smooth as a mirror, with the fog now caressing the tops of the hills as if saying a goodbye. The world on the water that night became so still, even the fish caught and landed in another boat made itself heard a long way away, flopping around trying to escape the fish box. The excited cries of the fisher folk echoed off the water and skipped toward our little boat. Just the two of us in our boat taking it all in for memories sake.

Gulls wait for lunch

I don’t know when I finally realized that we were in a surreal space, maybe it was when I glanced up and noticed that shore lights were coming on and reflecting off the silky water. As soon as I noticed that, I kept my head up, scanning as if on a mission. And it was a mission, a mission in search of memories to be stored away, to write about, to tell others, and to open up the memory bank on an especially bad day, to make me feel better about it all. The catching of the fish I realized, and all the rules and politics involved, was so secondary to this feeling of being one with the universe, of having the experience of being out on the water in a little boat and of smelling the salt air, and feeling the mist on my face, the whole experience was worth the dressing up for the rain, of facing the elements, of dragging gas containers and supplies with rain dripping off the beak of my cap, of slipping and falling on the wet planks of the wharf, and the messy awful feeling of the seaweed as I pulled the haul off line and brought the little boat into the dock. Everything has a price, and this was a small price to pay for this fantastic feeling.

After an hour or so of moving the boat here and there, catching three nice codfish, the darkness started to overtake us and it was time to head for the wharf we had left such a short time ago. The hand lines were brought in, the fish already cleaned lying in the fish box, was a bonus to such a majestic evening.

Evening falls, heading to the wharf

The little boat let its master lead it back to the wharf, leaving a lace trail, spotted with the emerald coloured twinkling of the phosphorus in the water.

The lights of the town reflected in the still surface of the sea like the laser beams in a science fiction movie, yet at the same time reminding me of the Twin Towers of New York City before September ll, 2001. The still water gave a reflection of the lights of varying colours as straight lines, giving the effect of a tall structure, rather than a deep hole. No wind, no waves, no fog, no rain, just an amazing sight to see, and a gift to be given. Another gift, one of many the sea and shores of Newfoundland had given me in the past two years.

However did I stay away so long? How did I live without this bountiful basket of sights and sounds, of salt air and sea spray? But I was back now, and those questions would never be asked again, nor would there be an answer, because life’s journey takes us to places of the heart, and places of the mind, and it is meant to be so. It is, and was, meant that the journey would bring me home.

In a very short time my flight of thought was broken as the little motor quieted and I realized we were nearing the dock, where the other boats, safely on their moorings for the night, bobbed up and down as if they were welcoming the Kylee G. home. Now it was time to unload the boat, time to face reality, time to make a commitment to put it on paper and have it to remember always, and to share it with others. The evening was over, darkness fell so quickly, no moon to be seen and we unloaded our precious cargo and jumped into the old pickup truck and headed for home.

Bonnie Jarvis-Lowe, fisherwoman extraordinaire

For some it would be an average, uneventful evening. However for me it was such an experience of heart and soul, such a realization that for so many years I had longed for this and had not even realized it. But now I did, and now I was home.

The boat, the lights, the salt water, the fish, and the magnificence of nature, all in my life again, and now I would hold tightly to the anchor of it all.

Bonnie Jarvis-Lowe is a retired Registered Nurse living in Shoal Harbour, Newfoundland, passionate about photography, writing and her family. She has two grown children and one granddaughter, who all live too far away from her in Alberta. An anthology of short stories called Up Til Now is available through