My Travel Book - Brittany - They kept waiting and waiting for their husbands and their sons...

Our village in Brittany is quite interesting... No buildings on the historical register there.

But this village is very representative of the many faces of Brittany. An agricultural market town. A renowned seaside resort. And a small harbor.

The harbor is called Dahouët. Now it’s mainly a sailing resort. The last trawlers have moved to a neighboring harbor.

There was a time when fishermen would leave Dahouët as soon as winter was over. They went away to fish cod along the coasts of Newfoundland and Iceland. Three-masted sailing ships would leave for 6 months at least until their hold was filled with cod which was salted to preserve them.

In Dahouët, the women would be waiting for the men to come back.

Nowadays, as soon as the tourists are gone, Dahouët is very peaceful. And a walk through the small cluster of the old fishermen houses is like taking a trip through the past.

I went there last Sunday. The whole place was empty. Most of the houses were shut down.

I felt like closing my eyes and I started daydreaming...

The air got warmer. Early spring, I’d say.

Church bells were ringing. It was Sunday.

Women and children were leaving their homes. Time to go to mass. The men had been gone for one whole month already. The women went to pray. They went to church to pray for the safety of their husbands and their sons, the ship’s boys already at sea.

They were so scared and worried, those women who could barely imagine what their men were going through.

The sea they knew could be treacherous but what about the wide ocean the great ships were fighting off in search of the elusive cod, their livelihood.

Would the ships encounter deadly rocks and founder into the abyss? Would the dories get lost into the deep fog and never find the ship?

There would be no letters, not one word from their loved ones for so many months. No way to know whether or not the ship would come back.

The women kept waiting and waiting for their men and sons.

And then one day, the ships would appear on the horizon, one by one. The children were on the look-out and they would go running to the women and tell them the name of the ship they had seen. And there would be great joy in the hearts and the small homes.

Some men would never make it back. Sometimes a whole crew would be missing, lost forever.

So lost that there are no graves for men lost at sea in the village graveyard. A very sobering cross made of two simple boards: «sailors dead at sea».

For a few months though, life in Dahouët would go back to normal. Then men and women would start preparing the next fishing season.

Soon, very soon, the men would be going back to sea.

And the women would keep waiting and waiting.

*Good Luck, and Good Night*

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