Saturday, October 22, 2011

Elusive but attainable.....

I have hiked to 11,000 feet in the mountains of Colorado, carrying a 50 pound pack on my back as I scooted across logs traversing rivers with rapids rushing underneath.

I saw signs of bears and mountain lions along the barely discernible trail, and learned to hang the food high in trees during the night.

I have camped in the snow. (Those raised in Florida don't immediately understand that spring comes to the Rockies MUCH later than ever encountered at home in the tropics!)

I have, therefore, experienced having to untie frozen ropes with numbed fingers when  the snow got too heavy on the top of the tent and we had to finish the night in our cars.

I have climbed "14ers."

I have led men into the woods (oh, stop that, let me finish my thought before you go jumping to conclusions) as the first female pack leader at the Boy Scouts of America's management training facility in New Jersey in the 1970s. I learned to cook blueberry cobbler in a cast iron pot and got to tell the guys what to do....and they had to do it! Without grumbling or rolling their eyes, even.

But I had never gone fishing.  Until today.

The sky was blue and clear and majestic. The breeze across the lake near my daughter's apartment complex was brisk and cool, Fall finally having arrived over the past few days.

We took her fishing rod and tackle box out to the edge of the lake, and it didn't take long for the turtles to show up, their long necks stretched up to check us out. We could see small brim just beneath the water's surface, rippled by the wind. And then my daughter began to prepare the line and the hook. And the weights. And the tangled line around the reel. And the bobber. And tiny balls of bread. 

Patience, patience. Not one of my finest virtues, but one that is necessary in this activity, I found. Finally we were ready. She showed me how to cast out over the lake and how to flip the lever on the reel that controls the line. Then we waited. 

There's a lot of that in fishing, I discovered. Waiting, I mean. But, finally we had a bite and reeled in a turtle. Oops. My daughter and her friend scurried down to the edge of the water to assist the poor thing. I stayed out of the way. I'm glad turtles don't have vocal cords, that's all I can say.

Then it was my turn to cast for the first time. I'm a good student, if nothing else. I flung that line out into the middle of the lake, and started slowly reeling it in, like I was instructed.  Suddenly the yellow plastic bobber  ducked under water, which was my cue to jerk the hook up and start reeling like mad. And there it was, a little brim at the end of my line, wiggling and flapping around like....well, like we probably would in the same situation. 

Did I take it off the hook? Surely you're kidding. No, that task went to my daughter, who returned it to the lake after taking the picture proving that I did catch something my first try. 

Who said it's not called catching?

But I think I see why so many people love to do this. The day was gorgeous and I was out enjoying it. I was sharing time with people I care about. We could talk....or not. The fish don't care one way or the other. 

And for me, it's been such a treat to spend this year being the student in so many ways.

Thanks, Sara and Christina!

The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, 
a perpetual series of occasions for hope.   
John Buchan

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