Although many very much look forward to summer to be able to change their normal work routine, the same cannot be said for Alfred Attard who for the last 40 years has been harvesting salt in the heat of the summer months to be able to earn his living.
Alfred stated that although his health is not what it used to be, he still tenders the aspiration that his work will not terminate with his passing away and that his children will carry on with his work.
All those who go past Xwejni Bay in the inner reaches of Marsalforn in Gozo will have certainly seen him at some time. At the crack of dawn Alfred can be seen sweeping and collecting salt from this picturesque area of Gozo.
This has been a lifetime’s work for Alfred – producing natural salt from sea water.
He said the work is hard and he has been doing it for 42 years and fully knows the hardships because his father-in-law had initiated him to the work and shown him how it is done and he is happy with that. It is work he enjoys doing.
Alfred said work on the salt pans extends from April to September and if the weather permits, into October. Much of the work takes places under a blazing sun.
In recent years he has found this work irksome because he is now growing older but he still works in the sun. Last year during the harvest period he was ill and this year he has had to make up for it.
Still deploying the traditional manner of carrying the salt on his shoulders he has spent the summer working alone and doing everything himself – and he does not intend to stop.
As long as he is able, he will continue although many tell him he is now aged and he should be relaxing.
Now aged 63 it appears the harvesting of salt will come to an end with his passing away because his children are not interested in taking it up.
He said one is a policeman, the other is a priest and his daughter is a teacher and when he asks if any of them can help him they all tell him they have many other things to do. He has to abide with that and carry on alone.
However, until the Almighty calls him to a better world he will continue because he feels like being in the seventh heaven and would not exchange his work for anything because that is what he loves doing – harvesting salt.
Does he dream of salt?
“Naturally”, Alfred said. “Salt is everything”.