The Wampanoag and Massachusett tribes used to call the area, Namattakeesett, place of much fish, because of the annual springtime run of herring in the rivers. Although overfishing, pollution and the destruction of spawning grounds have reduced the abundance of fish, re-stocking and careful management help this springtime event continue.
Yesterday, my family and I were fortunate to witness the first day of this year’s herring run in Pembroke, MA. We watched a couple of dozen of the river herrings try to make their way up stream toward their spawning grounds. We saw their obvious struggle to go against the current.
At times, it appeared they were stuck, their wiggling bodies just moving to stay right where they were. Some even flipped around, only to lose ground. You wonder how did they make it this far. Will they get to where they need to go?
Yet, inch by painstaking inch, the herring advance.
They are the writers are the rivers.
We writers continually struggle to find the right words to tell the story. At times we flip-flop over what we’ve written, make changes, even go back to our original words or ideas. And sometimes we get stuck.
Sometimes the herring appear to be going nowhere, but they aren’t really stuck. Instead they are gathering their strength, focusing, getting themselves ready for the next push forward.
It is in the herring’s nature to make this journey, as difficult as it is. Just as it is for writers.
Inch by inch. Word by word. The story gets written.
When we saw one of the fish successfully shimmy forward past a difficult rock step, we clapped and cheered (much to the surprise of the other visitors in the parking lot).
And while the herring may not need our encouragement to get to where they need to go, we writers do.
And I am so very grateful for every cheer I receive from friends and family along my way.