Sing to me of the men, Muse, the fishermen who in the early morning bit into fresh bacalao in the pre-dawn light before loading into their boats, of the Arabs who brought saffron in baskets and pickles in jars, of the young and of the old weaving through the streets of San Sebastian and Madrid, picking, drinking, and continuing to the next bar….
What I found was spiced up canned tuna (it involves a lot of olive oil.)
Nine years ago we loaded a car, packed a nervous — some would call neurotic– dog in the back, and set off to the frozen Midwest. Texas with its long nights at the pool, terrible mosquitos, and many many Hispanic radio stations faded into my past. Umpapa music, beer and bratwurst, and -20° winters became my life.
The music, the food, even my accent was left behind almost as soon as the trunk to our mini-van snapped shut. I denied my southerness and embraced my new Mid-western life. This was a mistake.
Texas is good for your soul.
I have a confession. I tend to romanticize. Especially fishermen and the sea. Once, in passing, my mother, an islander, told me “When you live by the sea, once you leave it, you always miss it.” Ever since then I have been in love with anything nautical. Selkies, sirens, even that Looking Glass song about Brandy leave me dreaming and longing for that hauntingly beautiful, dauntingly vast and tremendously frightening mare.
My mare is not usually the warm and inviting waves of the Mediterranean — that cradle of European civilization that bore Odysseus, the Phoenicians and so many other explorers upon their waves. My mare or “sjøen” or ”havet” is the cold harsh ocean of the North, an ocean that is not to be loved, but feared and fought against. So too the seas inhabitants are different. These are not the warm waters that invite soft tentacled octopi to traverse the shallow ocean shore, but rather the prickly frightening hard-shelled king crab.
Norwegian fisherman wearing the classic sydvest (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sou%27wester)