Standing here amid nature’s embrace
in what was such a busy place
things become more a part of what nature has reclaimed.
Tools, boats, gear, everything;
the time way back when cod was king,
a reminder of the fact that nothing ever stays the same.
And I’m back in a different time
when, as a boy, in your truck I’d climb
sitting, thinking, and listening to the radio along the way.
Both of us thinking of what we had to do,
this silent determined crew of two,
we’d put the gear in the boat and spend the day out on the bay.
In our way, using line and hook
another could replace each fish we took
but too much greed and technology meant soon the stock was strained.
We could see it more and more.
“We’ll handle it,” the crowd in Ottawa swore.
Dissent was silenced and greed reigned strong ‘til nothing much remained.
There arrived a new reality.
Closing the fishery –just a formality.
So with nothing left for me here I prepared to move away.
I could stay for low-paid work at best
but there was steady employment out west.
The last time when I got up in your truck the trip was just one-way.
Now time has passed, and it’s me that’s “Dad,”
but I’m “Son” when I think of times we had.
You’ve passed on, though you will always live on in my mind.
Today, home at last; first time in years
my mind flashes back; I brush away the tears
standing here amid what’s become of what I left behind.
Still I see how new grass grows among the old
and I know what happens next can’t be foretold.
The fish came, were gone, and you never know, may be back again.
So, too, with me as I take the oil out from the sand
I know one day it will be gone from that land
but, we will remain and something from all of us surely will remain.
To my children, home is our place out west
but when I’m here I consider myself blessed.
I’m not sad; no regrets. I just do what I have to do.
I will work for them; fate’s not to blame
and I hope my children will do the same.
Maybe someday they’ll be as proud of me and I am of you.
Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans are no strangers to working far from home and to the ever-present possibility of having to emigrate in order to find employment. The collapse, in the 1990’s, of the cod fishery was matched by the rise in employment out west as the Athabasca oil sands ramped up production. As a consequence, many, many NL’r’s moved there and put down roots in a new place.
This time of the year it’s not unusual to find many of them coming home to reunite with friends and family. The visits are by no means sad. On the contrary, they are joyous times punctuated by parties, and, always, always music and laughter.
Our expats are of this place too and, while they may have not wanted to leave they also accept the fact that one must do what one must; no regrets. They have built happy, prosperous lives elsewhere. Sometimes, though, when they get to enjoy the quiet moments alone they cannot but wonder of how life might had been…