‘The Sea is gone’
‘The Sea is gone ... no , really !!’
The little girl panted as she shook her mother awake. The mother pulled herself out of the bed and drew the curtains, spilling early morning sunshine into the room.
She squinted to look across the backyard that overlooked the bay of Fundy. She could not believe her eyes!
Attack of the Crabs
Once upon a time, long long ago, there was a small little kingdom called Anrock near the Bay of Fundy. The people in the kingdom were happy fishermen and women. They would all work through the day and get together in the evening, sing and dance together.
Then one day, the kingdom was attacked by the ferocious crabs of the underland.
Crabs of all shapes and sizes started crawling out of the ocean. Crabs of all forms - big ones with large claws and small ones with small pinchers and tiny ones with hairy spider like legs. Crabs of all colors –furious red ones, greedy greenish ones, lazy brown ones and the snooty blue ones.
They came out of the ocean in hoards, overrunning the fishing village. They gobbled up the fishing nets. They bit through the fishing boats making them sink into the bottom of the ocean. They even climbed up the roof of the houses and made big holes in them.
The fisher folks had to run away from the villages. The ones those remained had to guard their houses round the clock. The men fought them with swords. Then women joined the fight trying to keep the Crabs away from their houses using pitchforks.
But the creepy, crawly creatures kept on pouring out of the sea into the villages around the bay. The fisher folks were losing the fight. The head of all the villages rode to the King’s castle.
King Pembroke heard the plea of the unhappy subjects. “The Crabs have attacked our villages, please help us …’, they pleaded.
The King was enraged. He took out his deadliest sword, assembled his bravest soldiers, put on his strongest armor and rode on his fastest horse towards the Bay of Fundy.
Prince of Clams
King Pembroke had many friends who lived in the ocean. He knew that he would need their help to defeat the Crabs. So he stopped by the castle of the Prince of Clams.
The prince lived in a castle that was different from all the other castles in the world - it was under the ground! What looked like flat marshy seabed next to the Bay, was actually the roof of the huge castle. Millions of clams stood guard of the Castle, keeping watch through tiny peepholes
‘I am here to see the Prince of Clams’, King Pembroke announced. The section of the ocean floor he was standing in stared to move into the ground. He was greeted by the cheerful clicky voice of the prince of Clam.
‘Good to see you my friend!’, the prince announced. The prince knew about the Crabs. ‘They have come in from the underland’, he said somberly.
‘Can you help me?’, The King asked.
The clam clicked thoughtfully. He then clicked some more. ‘There is one person who can help you ‘ , he finally declared. The king waited expectantly as the clam clicked some more.
‘The God of the Sea – Poseidon’, the clam said after a pause, ‘ the God of the sea can tame the crabs. The crabs need the sea to survive …’
‘But I don’t know how to reach Poseidon …’ , King Pembroke voice had a hint of dejection. He had heard about the legend of the God of sea who lived in deepest oceans – far far away from the bay of Fundy.
‘But I know someone who does! ’, the prince of Clam said with a cheerful click.
The Travelling Salmon
‘Yes , that is correct ‘ , the Atlantic Salmon said twitching his snout ‘ I have met Poseidon ...’ , he wiggled his tail and twitched his snout some more ‘ … met him several times …’ , he said in a calm monotonous tone.
Prince clam had told the King that the Travelling Salmon was back from his ocean trip. ‘The golly fellow comes back to the stream it was born in. Imagine, traveling to all those wonderful faraway places in another continent, only to come back here!’
‘The fish may be nuts, but I tell you - he knows Poseidon. He has surely met him many times’, King Pembroke recalled Prince Clam’s words as he stood near the Chamcook Lake talking to the Travelling Salmon. The lake was connected to the ocean by the winding Chamcook river , which plunged down a huge waterfall before merging into the bay.
‘Seven times ... I have met him seven times – once in each of my ocean trips ..’ , the travelling salmon continued ‘ In fact Poseidon taught me how to jump up that waterfall - all twelve feet of it’ , The salmon flicked its tail in the direction of the waterfall.
‘Can you convey our message to Poseidon to help us? The Crabs are destroying the villages and they must be stopped! ‘ , the King made an earnest plea.
‘But the villagers have fished us to near extinction’, the salmon replied. A tinge of sadness accentuated its monotonous voice, ‘They have polluted the streams and built dams on the rivers that makes it impossible for us to come back to the places we were born in …’
‘Why should I help you and your villagers ...’ , the travelling Salmon stared at King Pembroke.
‘I will make sure you and your kind are protected ‘, The King did not bat his eyelids ‘ Even if you choose not to help me … Travelling salmon, that is a word that I give to you today !’
The travelling salmon glided around the lake as several other salmon joined him. They looked very happy. The salmon picked up speed and headed out towards the river ‘ I will help you ‘, it said jumping over a rapid.
‘How will I know that you have conveyed him our message?’, The king asked .
‘You will know’, the salmon said as it jumped down the waterfall.
The Sea is gone
‘The Sea is gone!!’
The little girl panted as she shook her mother awake. The mother pulled herself out of the bed and drew the curtains, spilling early morning sunshine into the room. She squinted her eyes to look across the backyard that overlooked the bay of Fundy. She could not believe he eyes!
She picked up the pitchfork that was carefully placed beside the door and cautiously walked out into the backyard of the house. The house was perched on top of a cliff overlooking the bay.
The sea was indeed gone! And the crabs had gone away with it!
Tears of joy welled into her eyes as she looked along the coastline which was lined with thousands of men, women and children, waving their swords and pitchforks into the air. A roar of cheer rang across the bay as the woman and her little girl joined in.
King Pembroke stood with the men and women and stared at the empty horizon.
‘You will know’
The sea did come back. In six hours to be precise. The nasty Crabs of the underland did not come back with it. The Sea has been receding into the horizon twice a day since then – perhaps just to make sure that the crabs do not come back and terrorize the small little kingdom near the Bay of Fundy.
The breeding grounds of salmons are now protected in the Kingdom.
Authors Note: Bay of Fundy in the Atlantic coast of North America is known for the highest tides in the world. The sea level drops by more than forty feet between the tides. The coastline recedes almost to the horizon in a lot of places leaving the coastal fishing towns somewhat embarrassed with their docks anchoring boats balanced on the dry ocean bed. Twice in a day, these quaint seaside towns would transform to (just) quaint towns overlooking vast expanse of ocean bed laden with silt and weeds.
I was sitting on the deck of a cottage in one such town, trying hard to get out of an obstinate writer’s block. The cottage (an amazing vacation rental) was perched on a cliff overlooking the Bay of Fundy in St Andrews, Canada. A path wound down from the cottage to the seashore where my kids were busy chasing crabs with enviable enthusiasm. The crabs sought shelter in the receding sea that was fleeing with an amazing pace because of the low tide.
‘Keep an eye on the kids’; said my wife ‘I am going in to fix us some lunch’.
I nodded, fixing my gaze at the two children who were squealing with delight digging out crabs of all shapes and sizes from the ocean bed and putting them into a yellow bucket. ‘We will let them all go after we are done playing’, my seven year old daughter had assured me.
The kids went further and further away from the cliff as the ocean receded, almost as if they were chasing the ocean into a beating retreat.
I had found my story!