It started simply enough, with a request for lodging with a Warm Showers member – the organization for cyclists hosting touring cyclists. Bill and Marilyn graciously accepted our request, and we were pleased to know we had a place to stay a few nights hence. But it only got better. Bill's follow-up email could not have been more unexpected or exciting for us: “I'm a lobster fisherman. Would you like lobster for dinner?” The response was a resounding YES!
We arrived at their home mid-afternoon to find a note from Marilyn. Informing us that the lobster boats returned to the wharf around 4:00pm, she provided us with a little map and planted the idea of watching Bill's boat come in. It didn't take any convincing for us to follow her suggestion. After all, we're two Minnesotans who know nothing about catching lobster. Soon we were cycling down to the wharf.
We arrived just as Bill's boat was approaching the dock. Trying to make ourselves inconspicuous and stay out of everyone's way (not exactly easy being two city dwellers on bicycles…) we watched the day's catch being unloaded and weighed. Bill was quick to come greet us, and took some good natured ribbing from the others on the dock. It was all finished very quickly and efficiently and soon we were heading back to the house, followed by Bill with about a dozen lobsters in tow.
Cooking the lobster proved just as fascinating. Bill set up a propane burner in the back yard, with a huge pot of water on top – strategically placed outside due to its size and the smell. Clearly he was well practiced at this operation. While waiting for the water to boil, Bill gave us a lesson on lobster anatomy – how to tell the males from the females and their molting process. And just like I'd always heard, the lobsters transformed from their dark color to a brilliant orange when they cooked. We loved hearing the details of lobster fishing and were amazed to learn that the dock price of lobster – what the fishermen earn – is only $2.50 per pound. What a difference from the pricy restaurant meals down the line!
A cozy table awaited us inside for our feast. Bill and Marilyn were patient and helpful at instructing us in the art of extricating the lobster meat from the shells. I think we managed pretty well for our very first time handling whole lobsters. In fact, Rich got so good at it that he consumed four of them! We had a wonderful time sharing delicious lobster, wine and companionship around that table. While we have had many opportunities to eat lobster on this trip, none will ever compare to that experience!
Before leaving in the morning, we were treated to yet another feast – this one for the eyes. Marilyn is an artist who hand paints beautiful designs on silk. She took us into her back yard studio which was filled with sunlight and gloriously colored images of the local coastline and nature hanging on the walls. Framed with wood from old lobster traps, they were captivating. Ever curious, Marilyn showed me how she paints the silks, all of which she designs herself.
Who knew, from that initial request just what a delightful experience awaited us? Meeting people, learning about their life work and gaining some appreciation for the local customs and trades is one of the best parts of this trip. And we'll never see lobster again without thinking of our evening with Bill and Marilyn.