For Snook and Annie Organ, life in Bread and Cheese Harbour isn’t what it once was. They haven’t untied their boat from its mooring in more than a month - that’s how bad the wind has been. They haven’t had a chance to get out on the water. Not even for a brief boil-up on the barasway, much less set a few snares, drag for some scallops, or check how their cabin is holding up against winter weather.
Visiting that cabin is not as much fun for them as it was years ago anyway and, while the Organs seldom speak about what they’re bothered by, both wonder if that’s why they don’t feel much like motoring. What with the number of new aquaculture cages that have been approved for their little piece of paradise, it’s been difficult for them to relax given all the changes that are going on along that shoreline they love. Like the additional garbage that continually collects, the steady stream of noisy boats, and the way some of the Organ’s favourite trees have been cut down for firewood by fish farmers they don’t know – men from New Brunswick who are only in the area to make a couple bucks.
Plus, the Organs heard that a hundred thousand salmon had escaped from one of the cages during an especially violent storm, two months ago, and even if that estimate was only half-right they wonder why no one has made an announcement about such an event, given its ecological importance. “Just don’t know why the aquaculture companies can get away with things fishermen can’t,” Snook mumbles, when his hurt becomes too much for him to bear. “Like, if I’d done something I shouldn’t to the land and sea, they’d take away my boat, my licence, and my gear. Then they’d give me a big fat fine and put my name in the newspaper.”
“And how come when Patrick asked our politician, Johnny Johnston, about those salmon getting out,” Annie added, “Johnny said he hadn’t heard nothing?” Then, shaking her head, she pushed out another question, “C’mon… with all his relatives still living ‘round here, and him being home for Christmas the way he was? Don’t give me that… John Johnston hears what we hear.”
And that’s the way it is for many who decided to stay in Bread and Cheese Harbour after their fishery crashed. Most are grumpy about something or somebody – an increase in seal population, a loss in essential services, Darin King and Clyde Jackman…
But there is another side to the Organs and the others – a happier side. Not that they don’t see the way government and big business destroy this life they love. Not that they don’t notice the negatives that came to Newfoundland at the tail-end of the twentieth century, and continue to torture them today. Not that they don’t wonder how come some politicians lie, or why agencies apply different rules for different people. Just that there is something in their heart that reminds them they are still living in a great harbour, on a beautiful bay, along a gorgeous shoreline, on the most wonderful island in the world. Just like five generations of family who came before them. And they know no matter what outside influences are at work to destroy their way of life in Bread and Cheese Harbour, this place they call home is, for the time being, still something worth smiling about.