The Rope and the Net

Fixing up fishing nets distracts from the impatience of the world but the patterns can’t be escaped from. For five days we cut through and unravelled a bag of old netting as the new lining was laid out like the train on a bridesmaid’s courtage. 120 hours of manpower and then we were finished. Eleven more to go.

In this environment, I feel wet behind the ears. On one hand, there’s abrasions on the softened tips of my fingers from the burn of rope gliding past skin. With this tenderness, I’m a temporary vessel in a sea of tradition. With needles of twine wrapped tight they thread five times through the netting to catch onto rope before weaving five more.

These tussles of old and new come through in discussions. There’s a way of life that’s effective and routed in knowledge. People are known by past generations and this continuity brings a tighter sense of kinship and community. The city boy learns to judge himself beyond his own assumptions. But new ideas are viewed with scepticism and contact with different groups in race, religion or island are seen to threaten a breakdown in values. A slur is a shield and no matter its thickness, rather than break it, there are words and actions to flank it. Throwing this tangle of untouched netting at rope that’s known plenty of voyages won’t bond a thing.

The new net has to find a way to thread between what the old line already knows. Every patch receives the thread weaving through it. It’s accountable to where the twine has been and where it goes. Every five times this runs round the rope, the unstained white fabric holds against grizzled fibres tussled in sea salt and the waft of the catch from years gone by. Is it up to it? If it is too rushed, it will get lost in itself, writhing, bringing the whole net down. With patience it will bring vigour and allow the rope plenty more years to do what it knows to do. Will the rope accept and hold? It is in its own interest. The gaps in between hold the field between right and wrong. If they meet, then what they’ll find in there is a feast.

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