Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Waterman

Once upon a time, a long time ago,
A Chesapeake Bay girl had a beau.

He earned his keep
Mining treasures from the deep.

A boat made of wood,
Oh God it smelled good.

She oft went along,
To hear the waterman's song.

An early morning ritual,
To him is habitual.

Early to bed means early to rise,
Rising in darkness he comes to despise.

Day in and day out all that stops him from going
The harshest of weather or to know that it's blowing.

Oh the dark and the cold
Do make his soul old.

Lots of work, little pay
Can turn a heart gray.

Early to bed, early to rise.
A weary man with red eyes.

But now he must leave it, it no longer pays,
He just can't believe it, he misses those days.

Once upon a time, a long time ago,
A man worked the water, it's all that he knows.


Grandma J said...

What a beautiful poem! did you write that? The poor guy. He should move to the west coast where boatmen don't have harsh conditions, but they do have great tans.

I love it!!

Grandma J said...

Ok, that poem is burdening my heart. I hope he's ok. And the girl? (((hugs)))

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Grandma J. - This poem was spewed forth in approximately 11 minutes last night after work by a very tired 44 year old who writes like a 10 year old.

Is it true? Well, part of it is true. A long time ago I dated someone who worked on the water, and I did go out on the boat with him sometimes. It is very, very difficult work on the one hand, but very beautiful work on the other. (If there can be such a thing...the sunrises, the smells are beautiful. The cold dark could be harsh.)

When I was growing up a person could make a very nice living working on the water. These days it is not that easy, and fewer people can rely on the water for their total income.

The person I (sort of) wrote about here gave it up and went on to do something else. He made out fine.

The girl? That's debatable......

Mental P Mama said...

We have watermen here on the CT shore--life is hard for them, but there is a mysterious and beautiful aura about them. I'm glad your friend did okay. Will he be visiting us in July?

Meg @ Soup Is Not A Finger Food said...

I would love to read more stories of watermen and the changes their industry have undergone.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

MPM - We just might see some waterman, but I doubt my old friend will be making an appearance, although we will be very close to where he lives. You've hit the nail on the head with the word "aura" - that is so true.

Meg - In keeping with the title of this blog, I really ought to do more on the watermen, but that would require some work on my part (talking to people, researching) and I tend to be lazy in that regard.

If any of my three readers would like to write anything on the topic, I certainly would welcome a guest piece about working on the water and how it's changed over the past couple of decades.

IslandGirl said...

I remember as a teenager, waking up at 4:00 am and going with my brothers to clean the crab pot bouys from the barnicales and slim that had accumulated on them during the season. What a nasty job, but there was nothing like the sunrise on those early summer mornings. The life of a waterman is difficult but it is like born in them. Most of my family have been watermen. My granddaddy had leather skin that was so tan, oh how I miss him. I remember getting up early in the morning and leaving from Mobjack going out in the water with him.Wow!!! What great memories.

Annie said...

Ah, good to catch up...have been up the mountain with the grand is good to know that the world is still spinning ...and cbw is still spinning her yarns...well, truthful ones at that!
Now it is very late and I home from tennis. And time for bed.
I thought you could just let the grass grow on the water becos it was a riparian buffer? You don't have to mow it. I only take my mower into the shop for a service when it no longer will start for me. Gee I shouldn't have said that.
Watermen I don't know anything about. Farmers and Ag scientists, and various other scientists, a little.
My sister lost their duck today. The one they were minding for the daughter who is overseas! Very sad. What with the bushfire, then an earthquake (minor), now a dead duck.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Hey, Islandgirl - Indeed your family has a long history of earning a living from the water. I'm hoping one or both of your brothers will make an appearance at our little blogfest in July. That was the best part of the whole experience, I thought - the trip out in the morning during sunrise. Spectacular.

Hey - hope YOU can come to the blog fest too...

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Annie - It's good to hear from you, I was worried. Sorry to hear about the duck. The marsh grass (or whatever it's called) around the shoreline we don't cut, but it's what leads up to that which is troubling. Thanks for reminding me about the lawn mower, I've got to call the maintenance place.


big hair envy said...

I absolutely LOVE that poem! You must include it in your book:)

I know that waterman "aura" well...

IslandGirl said...

One of the worst part about working the water is the lovely creature called the "Stinging Nettle". One of those in the eye and your next few days... well I will save that for another time. CBW, it will be interesting if one or both of my brothers show up for blogfest... lets just say it will be memorable. I will check my calendar and write the dates down. By the way will you be doing the duck walk anytime over blogfest?

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

BHE -You're too kind, but thank you.

Island girl - I hate stinging nettles, hate them. Yes, your brothers would make things interesting. Lively even. One in particular is just downright hilarious, although both of them can tell a good story.

I would be happy to do the duckwalk at blogfest! Remember duckwalking around the gym in Intermediate school? Punishment, cruel and unusual I'd say.

kerry said...

Just found your website. Love Matthews, but live in Va. Beach. Looking forward to reading your posts!

IslandGirl said...

Ducking walking the halls at Thomas Hunter is more like it. But oh the memories. Nothing like the big man there running up to you and grabbing your arm because you were running down the hall, kissing your fello and saying "DOWN" which meant,,, duck walking to your class from that point on. Everyone looked so tall from down there...

Autumnforest said...

I was curious if you ever saw the movie "Nights in Rodanthe." I have a bunch of movies I watch whenever I'm homesick for the Bay area and Northern VA. On my list are "Nights in Rodanthe," Violets are Blue," and "Wedding Crashers." I was wondering if you've ever found any movies that remind you of the Mathews area. I might like to add them to my list...I go through a "Missing the Bay" mood every springtime.

foolery said...

That was lovely, CBW. And we're not immune to the problem out here on the west coast. My grandfather was a summer commercial fisherman (he was a school principal most of the time) on the north coast, redwood country. The salmon run is in dire straits, in an area where you either fish or log, and you can guess what's happened to the logging industry.

Now people either grow pot or work in coffee shops and tattoo parlors, I think.

I need to go lie down.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Kerry - Glad you found us. Be forewarned, we're a crazy bunch.

Island Girl - Yes, and he said it with such an authoritative voice....

AutumnForest - I haven't seen a real movie in a very long time, so am not famliliar with those you mentioned. I've never actually seen a movie that captures this place adequately or even comes close. Sometimes when I see stuff shot down in South CArolina or even Louisiana it hints at it, but nothing like the real thing here. I'll have to make a point of renting some of those you've mentioned and let you know.

Foolery - I can't imagine having a family member with clear cut access to salmon, that must have been incredible. Love me some salmon. Between that and the almonds y'all must live to be 100 on average! I hear you loud and clear on the rest of that, though. Desperate times call for desperate measures, or at least a tattoo.

mom x 2 said...

What a great poem... I would not do well as a waterman. I have no patience and I don't like hard labor. It takes a special kind of person to both be a waterman, and to date/marry/love one :)

mmm said...

Looks like your poetry brings out the bloggers CBW. I like the way you took that old platitude (early to bed...") and turned it on it's head.

Have a good one.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

momx2 - You are absolutely correct about the patience, both to be one and to date one. Very special people indeed, and alas a dying breed.

mmm - I'm not sure I turned it on its head. I think I turned my head upside down and whatever leaked out made its way to the post, and most of that was salt water and gobbledygook, very little more.

Have a good evening, anyone still reading. The Chesapeake Bay Family is headed to a "historic church from the 1600's" to listen to CB Daughter attempt to sing in a school program. It will take every single ounce of fiber in my being to refrain from juvenile behavior in the audience, up to and including laughing and snorting.

Anonymous said...

seems to me I read on here last year about bad behavior in a church and a school event???? Oh and I have no pattience for the west coast fisherman I divorced one!! Quah! hope I used it right!

Annie said...

The solution to the lack of movies of your area of to make your own...what about at blogfest? Do you think that might be an appropriate arena for such a movie?
Do hope you enjoyed the concert!

Jenny@867-5309 said...


Have you ever seen Elizabethtown? there's a scene where Paula Deen (God love a woman who will eat butter on TV) shows her nephew all the pictures of their family on her bedroom wall. She has their ENTIRE family's portraits on her bedroom wall, floor to ceiling. It captures my mother's attitude toward her family TO A "T"

I think that movie takes place in the mountains of Tennesee or Kentucky (too lazy to google right now) but that scene reminds me of a Mathews family.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Anonymous - Excellent use of Middle Sister's QWAH, bravo. Oh, and this event was the "spring concert" at Abingdon Episcopal Church...the prior site of the misbehaving was Ware. Very similar venue, very similar evening, except my son didn't sit next to me so we couldn't make each other laugh. I felt like a caged animal, though, I have to say. It was a relief to get out of there....

Annie - You can rest assured there will be plenty of videos and photos at blog fest, I just hope some are not incriminating.

Jenny - Paula Deen is my hero, I adore her.

The weekend is just about here....I can't wait.

Karen Deborah said...

That is one of the most beeeyooooootiful picchas you have ever posted! I feel like I haven't been here in a hundred years. I'm working to much. The time change is kicking my butt.
I am having a contest, I'd love for you to enter.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

KD - Working too much is no good. Contest? I'll be right there.

Carolyn said...

Thank you for such a beautiful post. The poem is wonderful and all to true. Thanks for sharing.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Carolyn - Thank you.