The difference between having teenagers and having toddlers or babies is that teenagers like to sleep. They are a little like vampires – they go out after dark and then sleep for most of the daylight hours. Teens shun activities that take place before noon – especially activities that involve being seen in public with their mothers. That is why none of my children showed much enthusiasm when I suggested that we get up at dawn and go to the Mystic River dam to participate in a town tradition called “The Herring Bucket Brigade.” Heck with ’em. If my kids didn’t want to be with me, I knew that I would be welcome by the herring.
Herring (which until yesterday, I had only seen pickled in sour cream sauce) leave the ocean and swim upstream to the lakes in our town where they marry and lay eggs. The only hindrance is a dam which prevents them from reaching the choicest spawning grounds. The role of the Bucket Brigade is to scoop the herring into buckets and hoist them over the dam.
So, instead of my kids, I summoned my friend Beate (Bee-ah-tah), also a mother of teens, and together we snuck off for a morning devoted to scooping herring and hoisting them in buckets over the dam where they could experience connubial bliss and then die.
It was wet and it was really early. But we were rewarded with the thanks of the burly Fish and Wildlife guy and free donuts and coffee. After a hour of saving hundreds of fish, we returned to our own sleeping spawn.