Growing up, my family and I spent our summers on a remote island in Greece with a fisherman’s family. Electricity was shaky and running water was in the form of a garden hose. Food was sparse, and the nearest town was far from where we were. So there was always great excitement when a visitor would come, bringing fresh bread, fruits, and vegetables!
Our main entertainment during those summers was going out with the fisherman at 5am, to pull in the nets and lines. There was nothing more exhilarating than seeing what came from the bottom of the sea. We would pull in large fish, small fish, crabs, lobsters, squid, sea cucumbers, even jellyfish, just to name a few. As exciting as this was, we were often nauseous as we were in a tiny boat with hardly enough space for additional passengers. To keep from being sick, we would chew on dry bread dipped in olive oil. Even though we were on a tiny boat, and sometimes felt sea-sick, my brother and I treasured the times with these fishermen who were so quiet, patient, and hard working.
They would teach us how to pull the nets in, what to keep from the nets, and what sea creatures we needed to be careful of. They would catch enough for their own families, enough for their guests, and then some to sell to restaurants. Then they would sit on their floors with the morning catch spread out on a blanket, while cleaning their nets and bargaining cheerfully and firmly with one another until the late morning.
After helping with the morning catch, I would spend hours snorkeling in the bay. I would catch octopus, which would then be cleaned and grilled that night. These summers were filled with adventures outdoors – we had no TV’s, no computers, and no phones. To this day, some of my fondest childhood memories were during my summers spent in Greece with these fishermen, and that is something I am trying to instill into my children.
Living in a world of constant stimulation, there is nothing more special than to just disconnect for a while. Whether it be sitting on a dock or fishing in a boat, being disconnected makes you forget everything else that is going on and just focus on where you are, and the sea and the sky. Being quiet, listening to the sounds of nature around you, and then the sudden excitement of catching a fish is so thrilling. No matter what it is we pull out of the water, it is always exciting knowing that YOU caught it! Our children learn about the sea, the sea creatures, and being responsible for what they catch. What we decide to keep, we clean ourselves and together we prepare it for dinner. The pride in the kids’ eyes when they are able to provide for dinner is priceless.
My son, Nicky, full of pride on catching this: