The moon hung over the darkened bay like a communion wafer. The black water lapped onto the shore while a dozen men in dirty rubber boots loaded their nets into rickety wooden boats. The boats, not much bigger than rowboats, had been passed down for generations and contained hundreds of years of wisdom inside the gnarled planks and weather beaten oars.
The men worked in silence, piling gear on top of gear. Some smoked cigarettes and others did not. All of them left an empty spot at the bow for their most essential cargo--the wicker bird cage.
The birds inside the wicker cages squawked and flapped their wings, feeling the rock of the waves and smelling the salt in the water. They could already taste the slippery meat of the iridescent squids that would soon be drawn to the surface of the water. Hoards of turquoise squid would be coaxed from the depths by the fire inside the men's torchlights. There would be no harvest without the birds. The birds enjoyed this feast only once a year. The first man pushed off from the shore and the rest followed.
Each would claim his own spot, but they would work together in a loose circle. The birds' shrieked and dug their talons into the wood as the men rowed deeper into the bay. The lead man hung his torch onto the front of his boat and opened the cage door. The sleek white bird shot out and dove into the water, desperately searching for its prey. It would be hours before the shimmering squid rose to the surface, but the birds had to be in the water. The birds would dive and return until the blue hoard appeared and then they would exhaust themselves delivering thousands of squid to the men who rocked patiently in their boats. This night belonged to the birds.