Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Teach A Man To Fish

Sorry I’m late in posting. It has been quite the day what with the loading and cleaning then reloading and stocking. No, I’m not talking about guns and ammo. I am talking about loading the motor home up and heading out for the week. It is always relaxing going and staying in the R.V. We have stayed in some pretty interesting places from the mountains of Montana to the Snake River on down to the lonesome flats of Utah all the way to the Pacific Coast. We have slept under the stars on a cold Arizona night and plowed our way through blowing snow in West Texas. We have traversed hills and plunged into green valleys, seen antelope grazing in fertile fields and watched geese migrate south. This week we will be roughing it in the desert. Well Palm Springs if you can call that roughing it, which of course brings me to a story. Like you didn’t know this was leading somewhere.

Years ago Gladys lived on another coast. Now even though she grew up fishing it was usually fishing in lakes or ponds, called tanks in Texas. You know as in, Clem go down to the tank and fetch dem cows. She had never really been fishing in that big tank called the Atlantic Ocean. So her brother-in-law, Hiram, decided that they should go fishing. Hiram and his wife, Bucky, loaded up their young brood and Gladys loaded up her little one threw her lucky Zebco in the truck and met Hiram at the pier.

“Hey Glad-ass” Hiram called as she got out of the Datsun pick-up. “Hey, Hi. Where do you want me to set up?”She asked as she unloaded her tent and cooler while Tadpole grabbed the fishing poles and tackle box. The kids all ran around the camp site while the adults set up camp. Gladys popped up pup tent up in no time flat, laid out sleeping bags and hung their gear from a nearby tree. The kids gathered wood for the fire they would have later in the evening and there was talk of Some mores.

Once camp had been set-up they gathered their fishing gear and headed to the pier better known as LZ Bluebird. Did I mention this was on a military base? Did I also mention that an LZ is a landing zone as in amphibious vehicles land there as well as helicopters and boats and all sorts of big scary looking military equipment? The LZ was not being used by any ginormous menacing military machines; instead it was quiet and serene.

The flock of fishermen walked to the end of the pier and unloaded their gear. That is when Hiram noticed Gladys’ fishing pole. “Um, Glad” he stammered “that pole is real nice, but it’s, um no good for fishin in these wharters.” Gladys looked at her trusty Zebco. It was all she had ever used. It was short like her, it was light and she could cast it without any problems. What was even better it was her LUCKY Zebco. She had caught a ten pound big mouth bass with that pole. Okay maybe it was three pounds but it fought like it was ten. She looked back at Hi and said “what do you mean? I have caught many a fish with this rod and reel.” He shook his head stuffed some more Copenhagen in his cheek and said “that there is a fresh wharter rod and reel. What chew need is a salt-wharter rig. Here I got an extra un that Bucky ain’t gonna use. He handed her a twenty-five foot long rod with a reel the size of Rhode Island on it. Gladys held it with both hands and hefted it as if to cast. It was big and it was heavy but she nodded to Hiram and said “thanks.” They took their positions on the pier and that’s when she realized this reel was different than her lucky Zebco. It was an open reel. She had never used an open reel before. Her fishing poles had either been a cane pole with a line strung on it or a closed reel with a button. She had no idea how to work this reel.

“Hi, could you help me?” Gladys asked as she walked toward her brother-in-law. He sighed heavily and reeled in his line. “Wharts wrong wit it” he asked as he spit into an ant bed. “Well, you see. This has an open reel” Gladys said as a way of explanation. Hi looked at Gladys and then at the reel “yeah, so?” Gladys blushed red and started over “I don’t know how to work this. You see all my reels always had the little button that you pushed as you cast and your line would whoosh out and then you would click it and it would reel in. This doesn’t have that little button.” Hiram choked back a chuckle and said “and herrah you always sahad you was an ace fisherwoman. Huh.” He then explained how to flip the bale and reduce the tension and flip it back to set it. He also demonstrated how to cast with the long heavy stick.

Sufficiently schooled Gladys went back to her position on the pier anxious to try her new found intelligence. She planted her feet in the dirt and whipped the pole behind her and brought it forward flipping the bale and allowing the line to flow out. She watched has her brightly colored jig flew through the air. It sailed glistening in the morning sun out into the blueness of the sky landing right in the middle of Hiram’s back. Gladys was looking into the water to see where it had landed when she heard the cry “GEEZUS CHRIST ON A POGO STICK! What jist bit me?” She looked at Hiram horrified to see her jig protruding from the middle of his bare back. She laid the pole down and ran to help her wounded brother-in-law. He was walking in circles hands trying to reach the offending hook. This was all done to the background music of his wife, Bucky, laughing and snorting. She had fallen to the ground in peels of laughter.

Gladys was finally able to corral her catch and with the aide of needle nose pliers pull the hook from his back. She apologized while she swabbed it with alcohol. She consoled while she slathered it with Neosporin and she swore she would do better when she buttoned it up with a Band Aide. Hiram cussed under his breath and told her just to go try it again but cast in a different direction.

Gladys went back to her place on the pier and once again tried her new craft. She whipped the pole back flipped the bale and held her breath as she let it fly. It flew beautifully. It was a perfect cast. Hiram watched with awe and wonder as the jig sailed through the air. Bucky sighed with admiration as she watched it descend into the water. Gladys wobbled trying to catch her balance and she watched the pole follow the jig into the greenish blue of the ocean. She tried to grab it. She reached out for it. She grabbed air and nothingness but not the rod. She bent low as she turned trying to grab it as it fell further and further towards the water. She turned and looked at Hiram whose eyes were the size of saucers. He had a look of terror and panic. He was screaming something at Gladys but she couldn’t quite make out the words. She was having a hard time seeing Hiram. Then it dawned on her. She couldn’t see him because she too was falling, falling from the pier into the water chasing the rod and reel. The last thing she saw before she was swallowed up was Hiram leaning off the pier with a smirk on his face.

So you see the old saying feed a man a fish you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him forever but first you must teach him how to cast without casting himself into the water.


jenie said...

am dropping by from Anne's VGNO and im glad to be here.

see you around?
hope u visit my blogs too
life round me N you
earthy me

Katherine Aucoin said...

Too funny Gladys, I had a similar time with an open reel, I didn't lose the pole, but i tangles up the reel beyond recognition. I still have my first Zebco...I've caught some besutiful speckled trout with it.