A calling ...

"We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims."

"Make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone."

- Buckminster Fuller

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Fishing Trip

My dad never took me fishing. I never realized that I was missing anything.

Dad grew up in Bridgeport, Connecticut, a self-styled "street punk," who was always getting in trouble for fighting. Dad didn't have a positive relationship with his father, Ruben, who was abusive towards my grandmother Lena. After my dad was 13, after his father hit Lena, dad never spoke to his father again. Dad moved in with his grandmother, Ruben's mom, Fanny, who was the matriarch of the Kurlansky clan.

I once saw my grandfather, Ruben, from across the room at a party at my Aunt Sylvia's house in Easton, Connecticut, many years ago. The resemblance was striking, but dad is nothing like his father. Obviously, Ruben never took my dad fishing fishing. Dad once told me that the thought of going fishing bored him.

Karen's dad, Bob, on the other hand, used to take her fishing when she was a little girl. She has fond memories of the times her dad took her fishing, and she has asked me to take Joe fishing for years. I have always wanted to take Joe fishing, but I have little experience with fishing, other than the few times I have went with friends, plus the time I was taken  a charter boat, fishing for Rockfish, which was in the Spring of 2001, not long before Bob and Gene retired from Allied Plywood. My old diving pal John once invited me to his family's cabin at Kerr Lake when I was in high school, where I caught a catfish using a bobber. Last summer, I dropped by John's house in Arlington. John is so committed to fishing that he has a specially designed canoe with foot pedals that allow him to sneak up on the fish in shallow grassy areas near shore where the fish like to hide. John often takes his one-man canoe out on the Potomac River near Chain Bridge at the crack of dawn. When I talked with him, John was coaching at American University, and one thing he loved about his job was the flexible hours, which allow him to go fishing whenever he wants. My brother's wrestling buddy from high school, Rick Z, has taken my brother's kids fishing, but like me, my brother Mike is not much of a fisherman either.

My mom's dad, Yunoksuke Tsuchitani, who was born on Iwaishima Island, came from a long line of fishermen. Family records in Yamaguchi Prefecture go back as far as the Gengi-Heike War, where one relative was presented with a scroll from a Samurai, who had been rescued from the sea by my ancestor, a fisherman. When I was in high school, my mom told me that before World War II, after labor unions in California forced her father to sell White Star Tuna to the company that became Chicken O' the Sea, he owned a sports shop, from which he sold custom fly-fishing lures, and hand crafted fishing poles.

A few months ago, while I was walking Mabel, we ran into Larry, who was walking his beloved boxer Dixie. Mabel and I have run into Larry and Dixie in the Accotink woods on a few occasions, and we have struck up a few conversations and gotten to know each other a little. I had been walking awhile with a new friend Susan, and her new pup, Reilly, I think, and somehow the conversation shifted to Larry's investment in a property in Canada called Rideau Resorts, which according to Larry is one of the best fishing spots in North America -- his grandchildren catch 20 fish per day right off the docks, and he pays them $5 per fish. Larry worries that a way of life is dying out, that there just are not as many people who have grown up fishing as there used to be. Larry's wants to pass on a way of life to future generations. I raised the question of how social media might be used to share that legacy and attract a new generation of customers who know nothing about fishing. Larry was intrigued with the idea of a story-teller sharing fishing tales from the property, and offered to pay me to write about my experience -- I told him I would do it free of charge, because it seemed like a fun story, but he was serious about paying me for my time.

Tonight, with Karen's request that I take Joe fishing over Spring Break freshly revisited, I finally called Larry back. We discussed my problem of how to introduce Joe to fishing, given my inexperience. Larry told me about how, as a child, he used to go fishing with a friend at a power plant on the New River in North Carolina. His dad never took him fishing, either, but it became a hobby, which he has introduced to his children and grandchildren. Larry offered some suggestions about where to buy fishing equipment, including K-Mart, Dick's, and I think it was the Bass Pro Shop in Annapolis. He suggested a number of local fishing spots, including Fountainhead, and surprisingly, Accotink. He told me that it made sense to start with a bobber and inexpensive equipment, then as we became more experienced, we might graduate to lures. As a final suggestion, he suggested that I go to local fishing holes and ask what others are using.

Fishing is all about father-child relationships, generational bonding, respect for the environment, and finding peace and joy in the natural, as opposed to a violent virtual world, a dark dim basement unconnected to the tug and pull of another life, where disrespect and killing sprees rule, fresh air and sunshine don't matter, and death is cheap.