#17 Cathedral of Salmon
October 09th, 2014
“We take communion with our eyes as we watch the miracles return.”
At last we had some real rain today. Not that mausey spit-and-promise kind, but actual rain. Mind you, it’s not your typical Tahsis Rain with the wind howling at hurricane force, not a torrent coming sideways at us, but it was rain all the same. And not a minute too soon.
The fish have been ganged up in the inlet for a couple of weeks. The streams and rivers are too low and too warm for them to swarm up and spawn. A few, maybe a dozen or so, came up the Leiner as far as the bridge, hung around for a couple of days, then sneered and went back down to the chuck.
I try to get at least a couple of trips to the river to watch them every year. The feeling is difficult to describe. You stand on the bank and watch a patch, a shadow, a moving blanket of dark bodies, moving steadily up the current, none of them seem to be in any particular hurry, there’s just this inexorable push to them.
It’s better than being in church. There’s a feeling of right, a feeling that here, at least, things are correct, they are as intended, and at least in this little bit of place, all is well and as it should be.
Our rivers aren’t raging, and they aren’t even very deep. I suspect in some places they’d be considered poor copies. This isn’t the Colorado, cutting the Grand Canyon into the earth; this isn’t the Mississippi moving tons and tons of soil down to the delta. You could walk across some of our rivers and not get wet much past your bum, but when the fish head up, and they fill the water with their bodies, these little rivers become cathedrals. We take communion with our eyes as we watch the miracles return.
Stupidity, mis-management and greed nearly wiped out the spawning beds. For a number of years only a few fish returned.
Here, in Tahsis, we are often portrayed as a bunch of mouth-breathing remote village dwellers with little going for us, the sweaty workies, the odd-balls and near hermits who avoid the civilization so visible in the cities, but dammit, we know what we know, and people began to come together, worried about the dropping numbers of fish. A Salmon Enhancement society happened, with fund raisers and grant applications. This year the Tahsis Salmon Enhancement society received an award from Fisheries.
Importancies came from Ottawa. Most of the people in the village stood and pretended to be impressed, pretended to be listening to the imports as they speechified. And then the President of the Salmon Enhancement Society stepped forward to accept the award and we all yelled and cheered and clapped and became justifiably excited because we knew the Society hadn’t done it alone. We all helped, with donations, with sweat, because, by god, those are our fish, eh.
All this makes it particularly hard to swallow a decision handed down, from back east, which will allow more fish feedlots in our area. This means we will have even more net pens in which Atlantics are raised in crowded conditions which not only allow, but encourage, the sea lice which will fasten to the bodies of the baby fish as they head out to sea.
The lice will suck the blood of the small fry, and too many of the young treasures will die.
Talk about give with one hand, take away with the other!
We get an award for increasing the number of fish and the feedlot industry gets permission to practically wreck the hard work done by volunteers.