Lobsters and Leaves

Ironically for the weekend in question, I was too busy enjoying myself to write up thanksgivings here.  I went to Charlottetown to visit my parents, and we had a delightful time looking for rowan berries to make more jelly (a total fail, alas; we found many rowans but no berries at all; I’m not sure if we were just too late in the season or if the rainy weather in September brought them down early), walking on the beach, playing Scrabble, eating turkey, and generally fitting me into my parents’ routine.

The most extraordinary thing I learned was when I went with my dad looking for rowans.  We were on a back road up near the Head of Hillsborough, and turning a corner came across a scattering of strange objects on the gravel ahead of us.  We thought at first they were sugar beets, then saw after a few minutes that they were lobster heads.  Lots and lots of lobster heads, most of them cooked.

Speculating madly as to why there would be so many so far from the sea, we kept on, and a ways down the road saw that the trail turned off into a field.  There was a man going around the field with a tractor, so we walked up the lane to ask him what the lobsters were for.  Fertiliser, presumably, but for what?

For spelt, he said.

The owner of the farm arrived a few minutes later with a truckload of lobster shells.  He told us that he was an organic cereal farmer, one of the few on the Island, and used the leftover lobster shells from the fish plant for fertilising his fields.  He harrowed them whole and said that they were composted by the spring.  He was planting spelt now, to be harvested next August.  Normally he’d put the lobsters on first and plant later, but the weather had been so wet he hadn’t been able to separate out the steps.  He also pointed out the clouds of seagulls following him, saying that we could tell it was an organic operation because they were there to eat the earthworms — and lobster bits, I expect — you don’t see them on the traditional high-chemical potato farms of the region.

So there you go.  Using local waste to fertilise the fields: a good thing.  Even if it was a very strange sight to see lobsters scattered across the fields and lanes.

The drive to Charlottetown was through the glorious autumn forests of the east coast: the maples and some poplars and birches are starting to turn, so the woods are shades of green and red and orange and brilliant yellow.  The weather was rainy as I came up on Friday but just at the Cobequid Pass the sun broke through the clouds and filled the valleys with golden light so thick you could imagine pouring it.  I know I keep referring to these psalms but it has to be said that fall is the time of year I really can imagine the “hills shouting for joy and the trees clapping their hands.”  The rolling hills of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island are all dressed up for the season.

I had a lovely visit with my parents.  I am deeply grateful to be able to visit them for a weekend, to eat well and enjoy the days with them, to walk in the garden and on the beach, to cook and laugh and work a little and relax.  Thank you.

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