‘Tis the season of sweet memories and a longing for home. A Facebook discussion with a young woman who has moved away from our home town provoked some very pleasant memories today.
The topic was the foghorn which was a frequent overtone in our small port town. The thought of that long low wail as it trails over the water and through the mist made me a little homesick too.
For some, the sounds and smells of home may not always bring fond memories but I think most of us have some lovely thoughts of those things which discreetly tickled our senses as we grew.
That fog horn was a huge part of my childhood. My bed was only about 500 yards up the beach from it and unlike the shoreside muffler it has now, the blast was as loud toward town as it was to the water. Most times it was rather comforting. It blew every 30 seconds and I would lie in my bed and go to sleep counting to 30 between the blasts. Perhaps it is responsible for the amazing internal clock I now have.
There were also times when it was not quite so pleasant to hear. One was after about three days of fog. The sweet haunting sound became bitter and halting. The tune turned torture.
Of course the other time it was annoying, almost earthshaking, is well known by the lovers of Port Dover. It happens on warm summer evenings when you have just snuck around the corner of the lighthouse to steal a kiss or two with your lover. In the moment of passion when the soft ripples are lapping against the side of the pier and the air is perfectly refreshing after much dancing, the light from the water catches the fog horn sensor and suddenly it sends a blast which nearly blows young lovers and all sea gulls from the cement.
Another sensory memory came up last week when my sweetie and I we were down town in Port Dover and got out of the car. You might think a childhood memory for two “Dover kids” would be the smell of fish but no, it was vinegar. Good old fashioned malt vinegar smells were wafting through the air and and we stood like two hounds with our noses to the air sniffing it.
The smell of fish isn’t as prevalent as it was when I was a kid. Those were the days when Port Dover boasted the largest, inland, fresh water, fishing fleet in the world. It was when 54 tugs plied the waters every day and brought home their catch in mid to early afternoon. Then the smell of fish was heavy in the air along with the cry of gulls and the wake of boats hit the shore as the fleet filed into the harbour.
Stronger to me than the smell of fish is the very peculiar mixture of sand, seaweed, water, rotting wood and fish which rises from the cool damp sand as I walk along the beach. Even writing about it in this moment my nostrils strain as if they would smell it again and my toes wiggle a little in my shoes wanting to escape into the softness of the wetness of the shore.
Have a little listen to Van Morrison and think of what tickles your homesick button.