Thursday, July 28, 2005


Fishin' Ain't Catchin'

I’ve been in and out of a funk for too much of the summer. I’ve been trying to sell my house since spring with only a couple of tire-kickers showing any interest. My beloved Doc will probably retire soon, and I’ll be looking for other work. I haven’t done anything remotely vacation-ish this summer; I’ve just been working to maintain the house that swallows up what money I make. I don't even live there anymore.

After a particularly difficult night, which followed a perfectly miserable day, I felt that this morning called for some sort of intervention, some effort at a boost. I downed my meds, ate a proper breakfast, and decided that my Maddie-dog and I would begin our day with a hike at a local wildlife preserve.

The trail starts with a loop around a pond. There, perched on a folding chair, was a fellow with his fishing pole. He was a barrel-bellied guy wearing a cap that said, Born to fish, forced to work, and a t-shirt with a rainbow trout on it.

“What do you get from this pond?” I asked him.

“Not much.” He shrugged. “Fishin ain’t catchin, anyhow.” He waited for us to pass and then chucked in his line.

It was a beautiful morning, but my heart was heavy anyway. I’d had a discouraging interview with a new real estate agent yesterday. She’d presented me with a lot of data as to why my house wasn’t selling. What was the point? I’d been wondering. The house is about all I have that’s worth anything. I’d changed to her office in hopes of more innovative marketing and had instead been advised to lower the price—again. It seemed that it would never sell, that I’d be stuck in New England forever, that I’d have too little with which to build my house on the Oregon coast. Buzzard luck.

Still, Maddie and I plodded along, one foot in front of the other. We slipped through the dappled light that the sun cast through the trees, climbing. Just what I needed, I knew. Push, push. Let those endorphins kick in.

Later, as we came back to the beginning of the trail, our fisherman was still there.
“Just what do they stock this pond with?” I asked him.

They don’t.” he said, meaning the Fish and Game people.

“So, do you ever catch anything?”

He lifted the lid to his bucket. In it were three big bass. “I think the guy at the bait place put some in. I’ve gotten big perch here, too.”

For someone who didn’t depend on catchin to be fishin, he was doing all right.

When I got home, another wave of depression rolled in. I called my friend Robin to push past the loneliness. Our conversation picked me up enough to get me out the door and into the office. I spent a fair enough afternoon doing some work, then headed for the garden to weed the roses.

There’s a sign in our kitchen: “When the world wearies and ceases to satisfy, there is always the garden.” I sank the garden claw into the devil grass that invaded the rose hedge, worked in handfuls of blood meal, and soaked the shrubs. Ahhhh. Maddie chased after the ball and finally sank into some shade on my neighbor’s lawn while I worked.

Finally I looked up to find my darlin’ watching me. “Did you forget about the show tonight?”

I had. For a moment I thought I wanted to stay with the rest of the roses, but this was Ruthie Foster in an outdoor venue where lots of little kids would be running around and tangling themselves in the hammocks near the stage while their folks got some music. Ruthie Foster from Texas playing some blues. The roses would be there tomorrow.

God, she was good. The publicity compared her to Aretha and Ella. In Vermont, the whitest state in the union, I think that means She’s black and she sings really well. Whatever the labels, she was great. That sweetness, that range, that intensity set me free. She played a great guitar. She did a nice little riff on her church back home, the Amen Corner, the preacher, her uncle’s piano playing--funny and kind. I bought both her CDs.

I think I need to focus more on what I do have: someone who reads me poems morning and night, songs that sail the summer breezes, roses that bloom, are pruned, and bloom again, friends who trigger my laughter, even a good guitar of my own to play.

From satisfaction in these things will come whatever buckets of bass we need.

Your writing is very warm to read.

This post reminds me of something I heard once awhile back. I was going thru some crappy emotional times 'cuz I thought I wasn't where I "should be" in my life. A very good friend told me I was having a case of "I'll be happy when...".

I'll be happy when I have a bigger house. I'll be happy when I live in a better neighborhood. I'll be happy when I'm making more money and on and on and on.

He was right. I was so busy being mad about not living in a better neighborhood, not driving a nicer car, not making more money, etc etc etc..., that I had totally lost focus on what I DID have.

My friend helped me realize that by focusing on what I didn't have, I was missing out on what I DID have: a loving spouse, wonderful children, my health, and on and on and on.

Changing that focus changed me. And sometimes I need to be reminded that life isn't as bad as I think it is.

So thanks for the gentle reminder today, Lulu Maude. :-)
JimBobRick, my new in-person friend, meet Stephanie, one of my oldest friends.
We met in the 70's at a party near Laguna Beach. She was a beautiful, natural blonde with sad eyes and a happy smile. But she was towing an anchor, an older schoolmarm and Alice B. Toklas double with a talent for high rollin' real estate.
I was goofy, green and a young 23.
She was The Big One Who Got Away. Thirty+ years later I still think that.
Fishin' ain't catchin'...I never got that whole catch and release thing for the longest time. My partner in all things including petty crime loves it and for awhile I thought what the f%$k is the point of all that effort? (he is one for whom fishing is NOT sitting, it is totally active for hours on end, in all weather including snow...can you imagine snowy eyebrows standing in the freaking Truckee River just to catch something you will toss back anyway? But I digress...)

Thank you, Stephanie Too, from your Santa Cruz pal. Looking forward to someday being able to hike with you on the Left Coast where you belong.
I think fishing is how some people meditate.
There's got to be more to it than catching fish, because if it's just about that, it's got to be the dullest activity one can do.
I went through a phase of surf fishing some time ago. It was something my dad liked to do. He would bring home a bucket of perch for frying up.

I couldn't really bear the idea of knocking a fish out in order to eviscerate it, so I didn't put any bait on my hook. I just put my pole in a sand spike and watched the sun go down, listened to the steady rhythm of the waves breaking, dreamed about what might be on the other side of the sea. It was lovely!
I spent many years stationed in Southern Arkansas and learned to fish there.

I have found NOTHING that can calm me like sitting on the bank of some body of water with a rod and reel in my hand just watching the world and enjoying.

BTW, I don't like cutting them up, either. So if I am ever disturbed by the oddball rude fish who chooses to accidentally hook onto my line, it gets to go immediately back to its home.
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