As I got to my car one pitch-black morning earlier this week morning, I stopped in my tracks. There was frost on the windshield. Ok, I thought. I'm right back where I started.
Luckily, fall seems to be shuffling in just as slowly as summer did. We've had some warm days mixed in with cool ones, rain mixed in with some sun. But these frosty mornings are bringing me right back to the beginning when my body was still getting used to spending hours and hours in the cold. Not that I'm complaining. I love bundling up for the chilly mornings and then picking off layers by 10 a.m. Afternoons can be dicey since the wind usually picks up after lunch time. Christian says its due to the drop in water temps over the last few weeks. From now until May whenever we have a warm day the wind will blow like crazy -- which makes our time on the float a little rocky. We've been watching white caps toss us around while we try to keep our balance out there.
And, once again, it's just me and the guys. Greg, the Andys, and Will are doing their best to keep me amused and comfortable each day. There's plenty of time to get the job done so things are relaxed but we can still wipe ourselves out with a hard day of work. We just laugh a little bit more while we're doing it. We had a visit from Jeeves last week -- Joe and Steve are officially splitting up (Joe will be working part-time with a couple different farmers from now on) so they gave us something to remember them by.
Fortunately, I wasn't there for their first gift: they tossed a couple of old dead fish onto the float (Will and Berg had a swell time cleaning it up).
Fun and games aside, we're still planting away. We got another good chunk of our river seed planted this week -- just a little more and we'll be done with the river for the season. Once we pull all of the bags and get the gear out of the water back there, I'll feel like we've made some progress. The seed that we've had back there is enormous - the shells are sturdy and each oyster looks nice and healthy.
To get the seed from the river to the boat, we have to unhook each bag from a couple of system lines (long ropes that are moored down into the river bed) and then haul the bags out of the water and onto the boat (feels great on the back). Once we've filled two boats with bags (which are stuffed with our fragile seed plus a piece of styrofoam), we get them back to the float and disassemble them so that we can dump the now enormous seed into a big pile into the boat.
From there, Skip goes out at low tide with his snow shovel and carefully shovels it all out onto the bay floor. Getting him set up to plant is a messy endeavor. The seed's been back there for months so the bags are not only covered in poop but also mud and the occasional bird feather. Even when I'm covered head to toe in waterproof gear, I get mud everywhere.
Once the seed is in the boat, we then have to get the nasty, dirty bags from the float up to the shop, which requires loading them onto the boat, then onto the truck, and finally off the truck into tidy piles behind the shop. Again, a messy, smelly endeavor but I love watching the piles build. The more bags we put away, the closer we get to the seed being planted. Like Skip said the other day: "You guys spent so much time taking care of the seed, the least we can do is get it out there and keep it growing."
As for our cull, the oysters we're pulling up right now are damn near perfect. Each one is strong, sturdy and absolutely delicious. We've been shucking around town a little more, too. Last week's FB party was fun (afterwards at ES was even more so) and the guys were set up at the Post 390 openings this weekend. Everyone seems happy to be out and about around town again. Feels like we can finally enjoy the finish line we've all worked so hard to reach.