Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Chasing Childhood Fears.

"Turn the!" my five-year-old-self said to my mother, clapping my hands over my eyes as pudgy shields against the creepiest centerfold known to man (or at least five year old girls, that is). I was afraid. Very afraid. And I have been terrified of pike ever since. Yes, all because of a children's book. Parents, be careful the stories you read.

Balloons belie innocence...

This was my favorite book, and I hated it.

And then I met Jay.

And then I started fishing with Jay.

I knew what this man did --- he fished for pike. I had read his articles, watched his videos, and looked through his pictures. They didn't help assuage my fears. No, no they most certainly did not. "You know, there is this children's book......" I said, trailing off into the mistake of telling my pike phobia to a man whose life mantra is "chase the fear." I got this feeling that he was going to make me chase mine right into, and out of, the cattails. He would make sure of this. And oh, how I dreaded the day. Maybe he would forget? Yeah, maybe...

But of course he didn't. Jay Zimmerman forget? Nah. He's like an elephant. "You're going to look a pike in the face" he said smirking staunchly, like a parent telling me I was to overcome my fear of eating vegetables ---> eat the broccoli! Pretend they are trees. Hold the pike! Pretend it's prehistoric. Prehistoric is cool. This didn't help. 

For a few months now, I've had my old ratted copy of Jiggy's Treasure Hunt, opened to the centerfold, propped up on the bookshelf in my bedroom. You know the trick, desensitization dealt through mental games. When I went to bed; when I woke up; when I changed clothes; when I wrote....I looked at the pike, and the pike looked at me.

Tuesday, April 26th --- rods were strung and ready and we stood on a pre-dawn rocky berm at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. Well, Jay stood. My head was fuzzy, my eyes burned with unfocused thoughts, the rod and line were bigger than I was used to, and I couldn't cast the rigging worth beans. My ankles tweaked, giving me away towards the unhappy pike partnership I was sure that was to come. It was like walking down the aisle to a butt-ugly groom. Ah, but he has a good personality. But pike? They can't even claim that.

I thought about Jiggy (and yes, I am just that kind of grown woman who stands fishing, thinking about fictional talking squirrels)....

"As the little squirrel stared, puzzled and disappointed, a large paw patted her on the shoulder, and she looked up into the striped face" and I felt a hand upon mine, and looked up into Jay's. He said I looked dejected. "I'm getting snagged up too!" he reassured, pointing to his line leading to brush behind him. "No worries, let's take a walk to the other end." I grabbed his hand. I tried to balance. What the heck was wrong with my ankles?!

Standing on the far end's bank, I hauled out more line, aiming into the murky cattailed waters. "Pike are all that is evil, and mean, and dark, and lurking in the depths" I said. I heard Jay snicker, and with his sweatshirt hood pulled over his ball-cap he looked sinister, like the Emperor Palpatine...."maybe that's why I like 'em."

My ankles seemed to be having a bit better go of it here, and my eyes went out to the lake's surface, glazed with storybook pictures. There was Jiggy. There was her little nest-boat with a maple mast and acorn leaf sail. "The badger started to laugh, 'There's your treasure right before your eyes.'"

And there was.......
......a pike!

Not in my head, but in the water -- and he was following my fly! I was scared. Bite. Hook. Set. Pow! Jay was yelling instructions excitedly. His casting strategy had worked. "No slack!....if he runs, give him line!......get him on the!" But my head was the one reeling, trying to process and make my hands do. Before I knew it, Jay had his boots off, jeans rolled up, boyish grin on, and had jumped into the cattails to untangle the pike from the shoreline reeds, so I could hold it. 

And I did. Chasing the fear.....chasing the fear...

Jay said he was proud.

And I think Jiggy would be proud too.


  1. Oh yes Jiggy is proud and so am I. You had your own adventure among the cattails and reeds. Your very own "treasure hunt".


  2. I think it's terrific and the pictures show how terrific it was. Cherish it.

  3. Now I'm scared. Save me Jiggy!

  4. sgb - There is always an adventure to be found! Thanks for reading me Jiggy. :) I got the original Miss Sue's Storytime!

    Cofisher - Be assured, I am cherishing!

    Papa - There is good reason to be scared!

  5. Great story! You have become one of my favorite writers. I can't wait for you to be in book form.
    I too have never liked pike. I have never been clever enough to catch one. Shot with an arrow though.

  6. The brighter the light, the deeper the shadows.
    Have no idea what that means! But it sounds like it should mean something. Good Story!

  7. Fly Waters Edge, Kevin - Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the read. And you are right, "The brighter the light, the deeper the shadows" has to mean something --- we just need to figure out what. But in the meantime.....I like it!

  8. Hart - I am very honored that you enjoy my writings, and I love your comments! Pike shot with an arrow?! Now, that is a story I want to hear YOU tell!

  9. Great story!! That is a scary looking fish--looks like a cross between a fish & a snake!! You are a gal of many talents, I must say! Sharon

  10. So is this the inspiration behind "Jiggy's Revenge"? Love it!
    You write Jay really well... I'm very familiar with that whole "chase the fear" mantra! You are definitely a good story teller - I'm particularly liking the inner dialogue bits and your unconventional use of spacing and punctuation.

  11. Great story, and it looks like you’re hooked to pike now, which is a very good thing. It took me a while to find your blog, until a saw your picture on Jay’s blog.

  12. someAustralianMTNrange - Thank you! And yes, it is indeed the inspiration behind Jiggy's Revenge!

    the lonesome piker - Glad you found me, and hope you enjoy!

  13. That's a fantastic pike...well done!

  14. I feel a sense of pride for you. That's awesome! I never read that book and will be sure my future children don't so they aren't scared of pike.