Saturday, February 06, 2021

Transhumance, Piscine Version

It has been a common strategy since prehistoric times, usually involving moving cattle or sheep upland to better grazing in the warmer months. It was still practiced in the Carpathians in Romania when I first went in 1998, with huts of wood or stone well up on the hillsides, with no roads leading to them, only paths. I don't know if this is still done. There is also seasonal migration to harvest crops.

But I had never heard about it in relationship to fishing until Sponge-headed Scienceman described the fishermen in Newfoundland when he was doing graduate work there in the 70s.  The government had paid people to move into town from the impoverished remote areas because it seemed easier than trying to get electricity and services to those parts.  The sum they offered looked princely because it was cash money, but as people could not easily get jobs in town it ran out quickly.  However, they still knew the good fishing spots near their old villages up and down the coast, and many had left furniture and heavier tools behind in their abandoned homes. So every year a number of them would go out to live - quite unofficially - in their old houses and resumed their former industries of fishing, crabbing, and lobstering.

4 comments:

james said...

My glasses must be smudged. I read that as "Transhumanism, piscine version" and thought you were writing about Lovecraft.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

That would not be more unlikely than some topics I actually have written about.

Unknown said...

I actually looked up 'transhumanse' it being a term unfamiliar and the similarity with transhumanism being perhaps a misdirection. I was happy to see that the root is from 'humus' meaning land or earth.

I.D.K. – Given the etymology and the lack of symbolic or figurative use in the literature I've seen so far, I'm thinking that the use to refer to seasonal return to fishing locations is different enough -- grazing of flocks being different enough from capture of fish -- that if we can stretch it that far, it begins to lose meaning.

Would we use it for 'snowbirds' returning from Florida?

The seasonal change-of-home for fishing was familiar to me from recent articles about "King Island" or Ugiuvak in the Bering sea, the winter home of the Ugiuvak for 1000 years until the local school was closed in '59 with the kids forced to Nome for schooling.

In one of the cities where I lived I rented from an academic couple who spent every September to May teaching, and then every June to August in Africa doing research coupled with aid work -- often with a gaggle of students in tow. Is this also transhumance?

How about the "Hill Station" in Malaya that was the site of the residential school my wife was sent to? Guilded-age 'cottages' in Bar Harbor and Newport?

Donna B. said...

It's still done in Colorado. A cousin's most interesting FB posts are about moving the cattle each year.