Friday, November 20, 2009
On Thanksgiving weekend my dear Gracie invited our whole family to join her class at Kingfisher near Mable Lake. It's a fisheries, government run project where they breed salmon from the region. I found the day magical and found new artistic inspiration. We didn't have expectation as we had only heard about the event that morning and just jumped in the car in our warm clothes and drove to be together with our family- our favorite people. The guys running the program were fun, nature loving, passionate people who opened our eyes to something most of us take for granted. I estimate that about 100 people of all ages, stood on either bank of the rushing waters (the kids were the stars of the day). The guys picked us up in flat bottom river boats and transported us across to where they were harvesting the female spawners and 'milking' the boys.
Standing in the boat, I looked down into the water and saw ribbons of color. The water was all greens, golds, blues and the fish the most amazing shades of reds, oranges, pinks. When I got home I put pencil to paper and drew what I saw.... Not fish and water but what is saw. I was so excited to paint the colors because that was what was most inspiring. Loosening up those Dan Smiths (watercolors) really got things rocking.
(fish story cont.)
They had to catch the females just before they had deposited their eggs and died. It was a raw, bloody process. The huge red females were hung upside down by their tales and carefully cut up there bellies where the eggs lay. The eggs were bigger than I expected, about the size of a blueberry (my preconceptions coming from sushi roe). Dave and my Mom actually ate one... brave! After all the eggs were safely stored in clean containers and the sperm in baggies we all made our way to the Kingfisher centre. Eager kids stood around a group of long tables each with a basin and the eggs distributed. This is when it got exciting! Each child got a different baggy of seminal fluid BUT* no fertilization took place until the river water was added. Three parts not two like one would think. Science has proven that the water plays a key role in the little fishies 'memory' to come back to the exact place they were conceived.... I KNOW, INCREDIBLE!!!! When the three parts were combined and little hands stirred them up we saw the eggs change before our eyes. They became a glowing golden, orange color, the circle of life began again.