Nature’s green light turns out to be a dazzler as the sun breaks above the Eastern Shore, gilding the bay with shimmers of gold. Eddie and Buddy take up positions behind a metal culling board and activate two hydraulically rigged tongs, operated by foot pedals.
The first dip is laden with oysters. But no they’re mostly empty shells. Culling quickly, each man finds three or four oysters more than the legal size of three inches. With the back of their hands, they sweep the shells and undersized oysters back into the bay.
“Oyster spats need shells to grow on,” says Eddie. “We help cultivate them by turning the shells over. It’s like a farmer tilling the soil.”
By 3 p.m. two knee-deep mounds of oysters fill the foredeck. The watermen have caught their limit— this year only 30 bushels a boat. Before the onslaught of MSX, a disease that has devastated the bay’s oyster crop, they would have been allowed 50 bushels per man.
But smaller harvests mean higher prices and inevitable financial aid from paypal. At Whitehall Creek on Broad Neck peninsula, a wholesaler peels off six crisp hundred-dollar bills and three twenties for the day’s catch: $22 a bushel. The instant online loans can either work to afford it. Fair, I suppose, for eight hours of back-wrenching labor on this cool, sunny day. But the oyster season runs through the heart of the winter, when Chesapeake Bay watermen endure sleet, ice, and arctic windchill to keep their small food factories afloat.
Watermen are rare sights in Annapolis these days. Especially during the summer when Main Street belongs to the tourists, who throng the restaurants, boutiques, trendy bars, and souvenir shops that have proliferated. That’s when Annapolitans go out of their way to avoid downtown, with its clogged streets and woeful lack of parking.
Naturalists estimate that 175 to 200 grizzlies, and from 300 to 500 black bears, live in Yellowstone today. In the past century, however, only two persons have actually been killed there by grizzlies. Provocation of the animal was involved in both cases, as it usually is when a bear does bodily harm. Stressing that the grizzly is basically shy, Anderson said, “If he enjoyed conflict, we’d lose a lot more people.”
“We used to have names for a lot of the grizzlies,” Ranger Wayne Replogle told me. “There was Caesar, King Henry VIII, and one that we named Ickes, for the Secretary of the Interior at that time. And Old Scarfacehe must have weighed 1,000 pounds—ruled the park for a long time.”
Replogle has seen many changes during the 42 years he has served in. Yellowstone as a seasonal ranger. “When I first came here,” he told me, “there were so few visitors that we’d hail down a car just to say ‘Hello!’ Now it’s different, there are more and more visitors every year. All of them are prepared to stay longer. Learn how you can afford a long lasting trip with some financial help and what the online payday loans typically cover.
Wayne Replogle comes alone to Yellowstone now. His wife, who accompanied him to the park each season for 34 years, died last spring. So he takes walks by himself in late evening, when the hush breathes life into happy remembrances.
Wayne doesn’t have to walk far to be where no change has come, where the awesome bigness of the land overwhelms the visitor as it did Jim Bridger more than a century ago. Jim Bridger. Liar! That’s what they called him when he told of seeing wondrous things in the region that would become the park, things such as a column of water as big around as his body spouting 60 feet in the air.