The Wandering Dude: Fishing

They say that the time you spend fishing is not deducted from your total time on earth.


The folks in Arkansas take that seriously. Anywhere you go, particularly in the Delta, there is proof. There’s not a drainage ditch so isolated that one can’t catch a person standing in front of a parked pickup waiting, hoping, fishing.


There isn’t a mobile home so old and derelict and depicting bitter poverty that it isn’t likely to have a fishing boat parked alongside it.


There must be something genetic in our love of fishing, maybe some archaic remnant left from when our common ancestors crawled from the sea. It wasn’t by accident, maybe, that one of the greatest religious figures in history chose fishermen to form his first group of followers.


When I was young, we fished a lot in natural lakes. They spread out across the Delta like pieces of a patchwork quilt, oxbows left when some river changed course or lowlands where creeks converged.


When we couldn’t travel, we resorted to man-made stock ponds. They were everywhere. My daddy had a small one that probably provided more childhood joy per square foot than Disney World. My grandmother told of taking me there when I was just a toddler and how I protested “I wants to ‘pish’ some more,” when she made me leave. She never tired of telling that story.


As I say, it is an inbred thing. So, on the farm we constructed a large pond. At night, the frogs sing us to sleep with their hopeful croaking. At dusk, one hears the fish slapping the water. A few years ago, a couple of Canadian Geese raised their first brood there. Each year they return with more friends and family. It has slowly become a self-sustaining ecosystem.


In the meantime, it provides us a place to ‘pish.’ It is a cheap date. We don’t need a fancy boat and trailer, just a pole and some bait picked up from beneath a bale of hay. That’s all Brenda needs at any rate. I’m not sure how long she would sit and fish if unmolested. I know for certain it would run into the hours. It makes her smile, and when she smiles, as John Steinbeck said, the world turns, “… in greased grooves.”


There are more hidden positives to fishing. For example, the old-timers of my youth used to say that the way they knew it was time to plant cotton was when the women fishing along the bayou quit sitting on buckets and started sitting on the ground. Are we losing such connections to our planet?


I don’t think a person can think evil thoughts while fishing. I’m pretty sure it lowers a person’s blood pressure. It certainly teaches us patience and optimism. Hemingway used it as a metaphor for the healing process. I just think it touches the best in us.


Now, if we could only get Congress to meet on a pond bank.



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