Deal Island became an excellent opportunity for meeting natives and ‘come here’s’ of the area. Our final evening here at Deal presented us with the opportunity to chat with the locals, and it was such a wonderful experience. We had been given an assignment for the day to capture moments or items around the island that portray the culture, to discuss our interpretation of how it depicts Deal Island.
As planned, we individually projected our findings and presented our thoughts on them. Nearly everyone presented inanimate objects: churches, headstones, general stores, skipjacks. And yes, all of these certainly contribute to the character of this remote location, but they do not begin to tell the whole story. The individuals that reside on here create the culture that in turn, creates Deal Island.
The watermen shared stories of the blood sweat and tears experienced in their lifetime of harvesting oysters. You could feel the tension in the air as they described occurrences of illegal harvesting , and almost being caught. The salt exposure they have experienced was nearly palatable, as they described the harsh environmental conditions they face out on the water. Their happiness was nearly tangible as they recounted the magnificent harvests they have previously captured; their eyes shined and their smiles illuminated the bar. Even the way these watermen speak contributes to the Deal Island experience. Oysters you say? These men will correct you as “ayrsters”. And you think they went dredging today? Not these men, they were “drudgin'”.
I consider our exchange with these men a beautiful experience. It is so hard to come across these intimate exchanges between diminishing cultures, and main stream popular cultures. I cherish this as a once in a lifetime opportunity for someone my age, and hope that there will be future experiences such as this to come.