I am a fortunate man to live where I do and have the opportunity to fish as much as I do. Part of it is that I have arranged my life to make that possible. Part of it is that around here fishing and hunting are not "hobbies," they are part of the lifestyle. I think some people would think something was fishy if I didn't fish.
But while having good fishing close at hand means you can get to the water quickly and easily, it can also mean, since you can get to the water so quickly and easily, that you end up squeezing it in when you can instead of planning for extended, dedicated fishing time.
Don't get me wrong; I definitely don't want to go back to living in the city where my only chance to fish came when I could grab a day or two, or a week, and travel some distance to a fishing destination. Those were great trips, but there were precious few of them because I couldn't always afford the cost, in time and money.
I used to drive 1500 miles in 28 hours to Idaho to have the chance to fish in the kind of setting that I now have in my own backyard. I would do that for a week once a year. Other times I would drive to Michigan, usually for one or two days, and that was maybe five or six times in a season if I was lucky.
No, I like it right where I am. Even with local trips that I squeeze into my schedule, I've easily surpassed in the first month of the season what used to be my total fishing hours for the year. And now when I go to a "fishing destination," such as the Grande Ronde, it's pure bonus. (My brother will fly 2500 miles to be there; I'll drive six hours.)
But there can be more to this than what can be measured in time or distance. That, paradoxically, is what one can find by "planning for extended, dedicated fishing time." I don't mean days or weeks; I mean just a day, but a day when the only thing you do is enter the world of the lake or river. Not go to it; enter it.
There is something special about being on the lake or river for a full day. If you allow it--risk it--time is released from the bonds of minutes and hours--and so are you. In a real sense, when you're lucky, you're released from time itself, exisiting for a space in eternity. Instead of time there is only change, a natural progression, subtle, minute, nuanced. It is seen and heard and felt in the changing light and the flights and leaps, calls and songs, resting and striving of every living thing, from morning to evening to night to morning, endless and timeless.
Such an experience is more than a pleasant part of your schedule. It can transform you.
So I had sort of planned to get to the lake early today and make a day of it. But I learned last night that Lidia had an appointment at the eye doctor this morning, and since Kim started teaching yesterday I would be the one to take her. Lidia also made plans to go home with a friend after school, so with Isaiah staying after school for football practice, Jeremiah would be the only one coming home on the bus. So I stayed around to be here when he got home.
That's the other side of it; I'm also a fortunate man to have a family and kids who need me.
But when Jeremiah took off to play with some neighborhood kids at their house I still had time to squeeze in a trip to the river.
I squeezed it in, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was aware of the press of time, but I had a glimpse--in the blue rushing water; in the flash of a smallmouth; in the tiny skein of Sandhills way off in the distance over the red sunset bluffs; in the old and worn, tried and true equipment that are my fishing companions; and in the slip of a moon--of that place beyond time already there, if I would only take the time to enter it.