Blue Whale Puts on Airs

My friend in California sent me a story from the Boston Globe about the excavation of a blue whale here on PEI. He wondered why he hadn’t read about it in this space, what with the “history’s largest exhumation of a single creature” and all.

Truth be told, other than following the progress of the excavation on Compass for a few weeks, this event didn’t strike me as particularly significant or newsworthy. Perhaps because it didn’t seem to strike Islanders as particularly significant or newsworthy. You certainly didn’t hear of people making pilgrimages up to Nail Pond to see the great beast.

I remember when we first arrived on PEI there was a local businessman who’d purchased a Jaguar after making it big. It was suggested to me at the time, in hushed tones, that this sort of thing was best avoided, as it would be seen by Islanders to be “putting on airs.” Success was fine, you just didn’t want to be obvious about it.

This is a strong chord running through Island society, and it’s not limited to expensive motorcars.

The Confederation Bridge, for example, is, by any measure, an engineering wonder: a billion dollar stucture that runs 13km over icy waters. And while there was something of a flurry the week it opened — much of it assoicated with runs to Fred’s in Cap Pelé for lunch — a month later the bridge faded into the background, and it’s been years since I’ve heard anyone make mention of it.

Which makes me think that the reason that Islanders weren’t captivated by the uncovering of a “beast bigger than any dinosaur,” was a feeling that, what with being so superlative and all, the whale was, in its own way, putting on airs.

It’s fine to be so big and massive an all, but it’s just not right to lord it over everyone.