On lazy summer days I would peddle my bike to my grandmothers house one afternoon a week to pay a visit. While it was indeed just a visit it wasn't without expectations so grandmother would grab a couple of pails and I would follow her to the patch behind the house where we would pick raspberries. After while Grandmother would bake the berries into a 'Birds nest,' I would gather my fishing gear and wander down to the dock at Reid's Shipyard to fish for tinker mackerel.
After whiling away the afternoon on the docks I'd clean the fish, throwing the guts back into the harbor. There wasn't much concern about pollution in those days although I am sure there are probably laws against that now (there are laws about everything now). Back in those days the fish guts were just a tasty banquet for the bottom dwellers. The cut off heads were thrown out into the harbor where the sea gulls wheeling and diving in the sky would scoop them up for their treat.
On the way back to grandmother's I would stop at Brewer's market and get an ice cold coke from the cooler in front. Just five cents then. Those were the days when coke was really coke and would burn all the way down while the icy coldness would induce a whopping headache when the brain freeze hit.
Once grandmother knew I had caught enough fish for dinner grandmother would call mother and tell her to come for supper. After father had gotten home from work they would show up. Tinker mackerel with baby potatoes and spinach from the garden and the simple feast was on. Life didn't get much better than that for a boy from the coast of Maine. It was a wonderful way to spend a hot summer day. Father and his three brothers would have spent many of their summer days in the same way when they were growing up.
Today is Father's 76th birthday although we won't be celebrating it until tomorrow and then only as a family get together. Father has forbidden the idea of a party although I am sure my mother will make sure there is at least a birthday cake in spite of his objections. Father has made it clear he wants no presents and he means it so as much as it pains me I will simply give him a card. We are all a long way from Maine now and their are no tinker mackerel to be caught in the interior of northern British Columbia but dinner will be a baked salmon, shrimp, and crab.
There is one present I wish I could give me father though. I wish I could take him back to Maine for a day. We would fish off the dock at Reid's Shipyard and cook the catch up for dinner. We'd stop at Brewer's for an ice cold coke. We'd walk the footbridge across the inner harbor to Porter's Drug Store and have an ice cream at their soda fountain. Maybe we'd walk down to Pier 6 and watch the excursion boats come and go and then stroll back the long way along Atlantic Avenue. My father would like that a lot.
You can take the boy out of Maine but you can't take Maine out of the boy.
(Originally posted to Multiply April 12, 2008)