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Monday, May 22, 2006

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A River Runs Through Me.

While Patrick and I were busy producing an astonishing number of offspring in a stunningly short time, we let some things lapse. Like recreation. This was partially due to having used up all our time, energy, money and good looks on procreating.

But it also had to do with overspecialization. Our former recreational repertoire, based exclusively on alcohol, was ill-suited to keeping dairy products viable, let alone children.

The party had to end, and did. But we had nothing to replace it. Turns out the jovial go-along guy I married was actually an introvert once you took the drink out of his hand. For fun, he likes to sit in the dark. Myself, I am an outdoorsy, extraverted gal. I like to be outside engaged in group activities with the kids, a hundred of our closest friends, and their kids. And preferably, an interesting dress theme.

You see the dilemma.

Recently, we have really been trying to find our way to some sort of middle ground. Witness our recent camping trip. I resisted the urge to turn it into a multi-family caravan; and Patrick resisted the urge to stay at home and sleep in a real bed.

Whereas camping will always involve several weeks of advance negotiation, however, fishing is showing a great deal of promise as a potential shared passion. My paternal grandmother and father were avid fly-fishers; and I have been feeling the need to take the boys fishing for a couple of years now. Last month, I borrowed a couple of spincast rods from the local library and threw them and all three children in the van to go try our luck at one of the stocked city ponds, leaving their Dad sitting happily in the dark. A couple of hours later, I came home defeated and near tears. Trying to rig three poles and teach two kids to fish while keeping the two year old out of the pond had been a circus act. I was exhausted and frustrated, and Patrick saw that it really mattered. "We'll all go next weekend," he promised, and we did.

What happened next was he wound up catching some bass, and remembered that fishing was fun. Also, he went to the tackle store and discovered the endless array of gear to be acquired. I went online and on tivo and to the library and discovered much research and list-making to be done. We began looking longingly out the window in the mornings, just *knowing* that somewhere, fish were biting.

Sunday I caught my first fish since I was eleven years old. Back then I used to fish with worms for brook trout. That day I hooked a small one and tore it up badly trying to release it. I didn't even think about fishing again until after my Dad and Nana died. Mom sent Dad's good flyrod and reel down here last summer, and I will get serious about that when the baby gets a little older, but for now, spincasting will serve as my re-entry level.

I was really ready to catch something, too. After weeks of thinking and reading and obsessing about it, not to mention buying a LOT of gear; I hadn't had even a good nibble. I had been casting for over an hour out on the pond, and still nothing, although a bass had practically leapt into Patrick's arms his very first cast.

I was beginning to think I just didn't have it in me. So I looked around at the blue sky and the sparkling pond and the green, green trees and I took a long breath and I said a little prayer. Thank you for the beautiful day, I prayed. Thank you for my being here with the people I love best in all the world. If you want me to, please, let me catch a fish. Then a little gear somewhere in my dna chain clicked over, and I felt myself shift out of all the thinking and obsessing and information overload; and I went someplace deeper and older and fishier.

When my lure hit the water, I could feel that fish coming up on it. When it took the lure, I knew, without knowing, exactly how to play it. It was a gorgeous longear sunfish ( not the bass in the photo); and bringing it in was more thrilling than anything I've done in a long while.

I was initiated. After that, they just kept coming. After a while, I quit counting. Some largemouth bass, a lot of bluegill. We let a bunch go; and kept some nice ones for supper.

My seven year old brought in a three pound channel catfish on a bamboo cane with a bobber and shrimp and his pleasure was as pure and elemental as sun on the water.

I don't know if anyone but hunters or fishers will understand what I mean by saying how connected I felt with the fish under the pond after my brain got out of the way and my instincts kicked in. It was like I had done some kind of mind-meld with the fish, who of course, was also hunting. There aren't really words to adequately describe it, but the feeling carried into cleaning and cooking and eating the catch. Not to over-romanticize a simple day of fishing on the pond, but it was kind of sacramental, in its way.

My Dad and my grandmother Mary were both poets and both had more than a touch of the shaman about them. I always thought that fishing was something interesting they pursued tangentially to those roles; now I know it was perfectly in line with them, one fluid arc, me and my sons part of it.

filed under: goodtimes, friendsrelations, soulspirit

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Blogger bluebird said...

beautiful , beautiful , beautiful
are't thou........

7:29 PM  

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