Goose Cove -
By rights, a boat is just a bunch of dead trees, some galvanized nails and a fair-sized amount of human ingenuity.
It's the beating hearts the boat keeps safe above the ocean's grip that matters. It's the countless hours of care that went into its construction. It's the food the fishing boat puts on the table, along with the shoes it buys for little feet and the sugar in your tea.
To a passerby, the old Simmonds stage in Goose Cove may look like a charming relic of an old way of life or a tumbledown pile of rotting wood, forgotten in the wake of a fast-moving world.
But sticking out from the collapsed store is the bright white transom of a 28-foot trapskiff.
And where there's a boat, there's a story.
Michael and Elizabeth Simmonds already had a large family in the 1970s. She worked as a janitor at St. Mary's School and he with the McDonald's merchant store.
"I remember he started talking about building a boat," said Elizabeth, sitting surrounded by photos of her 13 children, 30 grandchildren and 33 great-grandchildren.
Michael took his sons into the woods around Goose Cove, seeking grown timbers and planking.
All knowledge comes from a long tradition of success and failure. Whether he knew it or not, Michael Simmonds brought more than 2,500 of western culture's wooden boat-building experience into the shed with him when he laid the keel of what would mean economic independence for his family. Even now, the planking is so smooth you have to get close and run your hand along its seams to realize the hull's not fibreglass.
"I loved every minute of it," remembered Elizabeth, who now lives in Shirley's Haven senior citizen's home. "I enjoyed fishing in the company of my husband, son and his wife."
Every morning the weather allowed, Elizabeth, Michael, their son Eugene and his wife Theresa would be on the water at 4:30 or 5 a.m. Depending on which trap berth they'd drawn it could be a long steam - but Elizabeth says she didn't mind watching the sun rise behind the boat, sending its fiery colours dancing over the water.
"I had no fear in that boat," she recalls. "Except once."
There'd been a full load of fish in their trap at Murrin's Cove, but Michael would only let them take some of it, knowing the sea they'd face as they came around the point. The fog whipped by Elizabeth's face in shreds as the skiff rose on one sea and pounded heavily with cod into the next.
"A boatload of fish when its blowing a storm ... it's rough," Elizabeth said. "But Michael was cautious, he wouldn't let us fill the boat right up with fish, and it was a good thing."
When you're hauling traps, raising 13 children and filling your many moments with life's commitments large and small, there's little time to notice lines spreading around your eyes and time taking its steady toll. But Michael, like other inshore fishermen, did notice the cod's demise and in 1992 they hauled the family's brave skiff one last time.
A few years later, time took Michael, too.
It has also weathered his old stage - the roof has fallen in and the cribbing is giving way.
But a boat is just a boat, a store is just a shed and both lack the power of memory.
Elizabeth, on the other hand, with a smile can let her mind drift back to Hare Bay and feel the rise and fall of the water as her man guides their skiff back to Goose Cove with a full load of fish.