Sunday, 26 February 2012


Miracle Beach, Port Mouton Nova Scotia

Let’s take a break from Cancer.

I’ll tell you a story of Miracle Beach and Port Mouton. It’s a little like a tale by the Grimm brothers.

One day, my friends, Clyde and Patty, are standing at the east windows of Clyde’s home. The windows provide a spectacular view of Miracle Beach and a 180 view of the ocean. On this crystal white beach are a man and woman, with their children and children’s friends.  The man is walking his dog. They are hauling a yellow dingy.

The wind is blowing strong from the west, outward, away from the beach. Clyde and Patty stand at the window, horrified as the children get into the dingy and the parents push it out into the water. Clyde has been a fisherman since he was a young man and he knows that on a day with this kind of wind, the children will be swept out to sea in minutes.

Clyde rushes to his car to drive to his nearby boat while Patty stays at the window, frozen in apprehension.
When he can’t get his boat started, Clyde tells other fisherman the story and they agree to go out – not to rescue, but to retrieve the bodies.

Meanwhile, Patty watches as the children are swept out to sea. It becomes evident that they are in trouble. They are trying to row, but frightened and leaning towards shore. The dingy is tipping dangerously. The father continues to stand or to walk the dog, but finally the mother swims out to them, grabs the rope attached to the dingy and begins to pull it back in. By now, there are other people on the beach, but until the woman is 20 feet from shore, no one moves to help her. Finally, a man swims out, grabs the rope and finishes landing the dingy on shore. Her husband does nothing when his wife and children are ashore. There is no hug, no show of relief. He continues to walk his dog.

I am reminded of the tale of Hansel and Gretel. It’s easy to picture this story of children nearly lost, standing at those east windows. The mental picture of the dingy being blown out to sea stays with me. I’m chilled by the indifference of the father. I remember how the fishermen in Peggy’s Cove went out onto the water when Flight 111 went down. In the deep of night, with fire on the ocean, they had hoped for survivors and stayed all night, finding nothing but body parts and wreckage. Clyde tells me some of them could never go back to sea after that.

Clyde talks about the ocean with love and reverence. It had never before occurred to me that fishermen are aware, each time they go out, that they might not return – like firemen, like any humans who work directly with powerful elements. Clyde says, “You have to respect it, but the ocean takes care of you and you take care of the ocean.”

He and his neighbors have stopped the construction of a fish farm on their Bay. In this age when corporation and government trump the will of citizens, they’ve won a major battle to take care of the ocean. But the war goes on. There is always someone who wants resources and refuses to face the implications of their taking. The fight to save the Bay is ongoing but those who have grown up in such places realize more deeply than any of us, the gratitude we owe to the ocean and the land. And they are motivated.

Maybe this is what the Occupy movement really is. People who are no longer waiting for the government to step in or change. Grass roots self-help. Active communities. Davids refusing to back down from Goliaths.

Thank goodness for those who take up sling shots and act.


Roberta said...

Jesus. What a story. Are you sure the father wasn't texting? I have seen many a child run amok while the parents were busy with their iphones. What a world.......

Howpublic said...

Hi Roberta. Told the story as it was told to me. Think it's pretty accurate & I checked the details with Clyde and P. Pretty much figure they'll let me know if I got any facts wrong.

Cynthia Newcomer Daniel said...

That is utterly chilling. I would like to think that it is stupidity on the part of the father, but am having a hard time pulling that off. I hope those children survived the rest of their childhoods.

Nice to hear about the community pulling together, though.

Howpublic said...

I found it chilling too...and it had a kind fairy tale evil...very disturbing.
And here's a quote from Patty, from an email.
"Thank you for spreading the story about the Friends of Port Mouton. In fact, the fish farm story is even more amazing - they actually got the fish farm dismantled and destroyed by the company on the basis of their scientific work and volunteer work. It will be back, though, and the fight is only bigger now."