Freshly whitewashed walls sparkled under a warm, early-morning sun. Down by the small harbour, tables and chairs, stored over winter in his uncle’s goat shed, had been wiped down and placed outside Nik’s Taverna. Even the normally unhurried and unfussed Madame Soranis had replanted her window box in readiness. Back up the hill, Mr Konaros too was almost ready for the summer season. Not many visitors to the picturesque village of Arxalas would likely remember Mr Konaros. A few though would have reason to regret crossing his path as they fumbled around in unexpectedly empty pockets on the journey home.
We’d watch from the top of Miller’s Rise as the village fleet headed for home. Through the choppy waves west of St Madigan’s Point they’d race the trailing gulls, and each other, back to the safe embrace of the harbour.
From each vessel colourful flags would flutter. On board tired, but happy, crews would share a joke and a song as their catch was iced and readied for market. Father won the race more days than not: the Mary Jane was the leader of the fleet – her engines would whine as my father and uncle steered her clear of the rest.
One day I hoped I’d be the one leading the fleet home.
These summers the harbour in Dunavan lies almost empty. Giggling children search for tiny harbour crabs as father takes the Mary Jane, and it’s crew of holiday fishermen, out beyond St Madigan’s Point. On their return, boisterous tales of ‘the ones that got away‘ echo long into the night within the warming snug of the Red Anchor.
From the top of Miller’s Rise today I watch with my own boy, as calm seas shimmer in the orange evening haze. The race for home nothing but a memory of childhood; a memory of a time lost for the fisherman and families of Dunavan.