Weekend at the Jacobi's, Lunch with Author Alex Kotlowitz
08.01.2010 - 08.01.2010 82 °F
“And those working birds…” Ted yelled over the breaking of the waves, “mean we are in business, my friend!” He pointed out at the seagulls circling and diving into the water where we were about to cast. Armed with long and old wooden fishing rods, large orange lures with respectable hooks, and a weathered blue cooler to store fish in, we were the first fishermen to toss our lines into the ocean Saturday morning.
An hour earlier, we awoke to a cell phone alarm in the dark and debated whether we actually wanted to go fishing before sunrise. It was an idea we had conjured up Friday night after a couple of beers, and for that reason it had sounded like good idea. That same very reason now made it feel like a bad idea at 4:45 a.m. Saturday.
Nevertheless, though I don’t recall how the decision was reached, somehow we brewed some coffee, filled a thermos and threw the rods in the car and drove out to the northeast coast of Nantucket—known as Great Point. It is a mystical spot kind of spot, especially in the early morning, where the narrow strip of land recedes into the ocean and waves come crashing up on either side of the sand. It is not easy area to reach. It takes thirty minutes of driving over the sandy beaches. The sand ‘trail’ requires that you significantly reduce your car’s tire pressure in order to gain more traction. We were the first ones out there Saturday morning, which made things more difficult since we were making the first tracks through the sand. We saw some other fishermen later in the day get stuck and have to dig out.
The working birds—as Ted called them-- were hunting the same fish we were: blue fish. Blue fish are notorious for being constant eaters, especially around sunrise. They are indiscriminate in their choice of meals, so much so that they might find an orange tackle appealing. Or at least we hoped. The birds, however, were not our only company that morning. Several seals from a nearby colony intermittently popped their head up above water, peered out at us on shore, and retreated back underneath the waves.
The first hour after sunrise we had little luck. It took me a while to get the hang of casting again, I had not fished in several years. A casualty of this rustiness was that I ended up donating a few lures to the Atlantic when I snapped my line casting and they went flying off into the water.
Eventually, around 7:30 a.m., our luck changed. Ted’s rod suddenly bent drastically, and he started yelling for me to run and grab the cooler. I set down my rod on the shore. After snagging the cooler, I looked out the end of his line. The fish was impossibly big. It twisted and flopped out of the water and Ted’s rod looked like it might snap. Ted walked backwards out of the shallow water and further onto the beach, trying to gain some leverage and reel it in. Then, amidst Ted’s swearing, the situation became clear. He had caught a fish, which had attracted the attention of a nearby seal who came and took it off his line. He did manage to get his lure back, but it was mangled from the seal’s teeth. The seal eventually swam off unharmed and satisfied with himself for stealing a meal.
We ended up fishing until about 8:30, before conceding and heading back to Ted’s house. I never had a nibble, but Ted later landed a blue fish that he threw back because he said it was too small. It was larger than any fish I ever have caught. We came back later and fished again at sunset, but had no luck. It was definitely worth it, nonetheless…This was my first time on Nantucket and I was really glad to see all of it. It is a gorgeous place. Many thanks to the Jacobi’s for having me.
I got back this afternoon (Sunday) to Hanover and have a couple busy weeks ahead of me before Summer term ends.
My creative writing class had lunch on Thursday with Alex Kotlowitz, an author who is on campus this summer. He is the author of There Are No Children Here, and he was very helpful in his discussion and personable in talking with him. I am biased towards him because he lives in Chicago and writes a lot about the city.
Pictures are from fishing Saturday morning. Thanks for reading…Keith