Monday, December 19, 2011

On the Big Thompson; or Bad Life Decisions.

“Why does everything have to be so painful?” Jay said, missing a trout and hooking up with a coyote willow’s strike behind him. I was meanwhile busy untangling two midges who, had they not been tied by my own hands, I would have sworn were embedded with positive/negative magnets. All day, this attraction -- like I was playing chaperon over two horny teenagers, and was failing miserably.    

Fingerless gloves, numb hands, frozen guides, freezing feet. Why does everything have to be so painful, indeed. Why does everything have to be so difficult? Fly fishing is always hard, and it becomes almost impossible now.

Almost.

Right then it seemed that winter fishing was akin to a bad life decision -- one of those whose red flags your mother and father warn you about and whose control issues your best friend gently hints at. Your gut tells you to stop. Think again. Peel off some layers. Go back inside to comfort and warmth. Watch some Netflix.  But you don’t. You put on your waders, lace up your boots, and accept the decision you’ve made -- to fish -- for better or worse....to a point. To the point where, if you lose one of your flies one more time you won’t be able to re-rig. Your fingers have moved past the point of pain to immobility, curled into an arched fetal positioned fist, waiting to die.

And yet, this decision will also uncover of what you’re made, digging out some good, beautiful things, down deep there waiting.


We humans have a cerebral problem with pain -- in our bodies, lives (ours and others), and yes, in our fishing. We are fair weathered friends of the world, forgetting that almost every pain was at some point also a happiness. They come together. That's the deal, C.S. Lewis wrote. Seasons do indeed change....us along with them.

And as Jay drove the road back towards home, I sat in the sunny-side passenger seat and I fell asleep. For once an easy, painless thing to do.

41 comments:

  1. Wonderfully well written Erin,
    every bit of that pain, be it cold winds or numbed digits that no longer wish to respond to tieing a rig or baiting a hook, is something that in its own right, makes us feel more alive and can be exceptionally motivational.

    Kind Regards
    Mark

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  2. Snoozin' in the warmth of the car after a cold day on the river. Painless indeed. A fine piece Erin. Thanks.

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  3. I have problems dealing with the cold. But a trout, someone to talk to and the warm sun coming through the window.all help to make it worthwhile.

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  4. Mark - It is a strange thing in life, eh...that losing feeling can really, gain us more. Many thanks as always!

    Mike - I couldn't keep my eyes open. It was delightful. Cheers. :)

    Brk Trt - Indeed they do. Indeed they do...

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  5. Another great one, E.M.B. I think you have to be a little bit of a glutton for punishment to fish in the winter. I take a great deal of happiness from some numb fingers and toes. Like the trout, I take a slower pace while fishing during the winter, it seems to fit the season.

    Those post fishing naps are the best.

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  6. Being a native of Minnesota, there's something sick and innate that equates suffering with quality. It is as true in winter fly fishing as anything. I really enjoyed this piece, EMB, and glad to see that you and Jay are out there getting after it.

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  7. i love falling asleep in sunny passenger seats after a long day out in the wild:)

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  8. I love/hate winter fishing. Great story.

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  9. yukon - Glutton for punishment and just a tad bit mad. Like you say, I actually enjoy the slower pace of winter fishing...knowing I'll only last a few hours, and that's good enough.

    Russell - That's part of my midwest-upringing's thought process too....pain = quality. Or at least, worthiness. Thanks so much for stopping by!

    Anonymous - Like cat naps. The best!

    nofuckingbeads - Love/hate makes for an interesting relationship at times, eh...Thanks for stopping by, and I'm glad you enjoyed the read!

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  10. In about 20 years or so, you'll be much more reluctant to leave that comfort and warmth, let alone trying to decide to go back to it.

    It just happens to turn out that way.

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  11. Nice slice.
    At times, fly fishing is neither hard nor easy.
    -Wickes (I don't know how to post comments.)

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  12. That story...not painful at all. Your awsomeness just keeps on coming...

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  13. Ken G. - Ah, I'm not so sure...I seem to be doing crazier things as I age...

    Wickes - Thanks! And it seems you managed to post a comment just dandily. :) Thanks for doing so!

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  14. A sunny nap on the ride home is a pretty good reward for a cold day on the water. Some days are hard and cold, while other days seem to come easy. All worth it in the end, despite some frosty digits.

    this was a great read to kick the week off.

    Cheers!

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  15. Amazing how the hours pass when fishing, even if the snot is running down my bright blue, frozen nose and my fingers are snapping off one by one with the cold.

    Glad you got another few casts in Erin.

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  16. That is a beautiful rainbow. Love the colors and the story.

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  17. Sanders - A most excellent reward...like giving a dog a biscuit. Thanks as always, and here's to a great week!

    Chris - The hours do indeed fly by. Now, why don't the ones while I'm at work?

    Ryan - That rainbow really did have striking and deep hues. Always fun to note the differences in each one. Thanks much for stopping by!

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  18. "I sat in the sunny-side passenger seat and I fell asleep"

    A perfect reward for a long and cold day on the water.

    Nice one.

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  19. Ah, but Ken is correct. At an advanced age, you'll remember you've done it before, many times. Your imagination will picture the ice flows in the stream, the slippery rocks, the ice in your guides. You'll nod with recognition, and put another log on the fire.
    With age comes laziness, as well as (rarely)wisdom. Cheers to being young, I remember it well.
    Fresh sea trout tonight.
    Mike

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  20. Tom - Naps don't come often in my world...but when they do, they're divine. Thanks as always!

    Mike - Ah, I'm fairly certain "laziness" will not come with my old age. Enjoy your fresh sea trout...sounds lovely!

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  21. I'm more interested in your interest for C.S. Lewis, who I think was one of our finest thinkers. The fishing is great as well! The Big T has provided some epic days for me over the years of fishing it and guiding on its headwaters.

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  22. First Adventure - One of the finest thinkers, for sure. I have all of his works (including an obscure Medieval Lit. book) well underlined. A great mind, and a great writer. Thanks for stopping by!

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  23. Tore up the big t on Saturday!!

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  24. Oh man for some reason the cold kills me and I almost always have to stop the car and nap on the way home

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  25. Justin - Nice!!!

    Brian J. - Right!? I'm not sure what it is...the sudden thaw or something. Always gets me too...so it's a good thing when I'm not driving. ;)

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  26. That's why mom always said to wear clean underwear, just in case you make a bad life decision.

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  27. I didn't have a Bryan or Sue to pattern my life after. I suspect if I had, that I wouldn't be a lazy old guy...throwing logs on the fire and sipping something warm. Good for you.

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  28. Richard - Exactly! Although, my mother never has actually told me that. ;)

    Howard - Bryans and Sues are pretty hard acts to follow, I'll tell you that much. And logs, fires, and good drinks also have a prominent and important place in my life...just, after the fishing. ;)

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  29. “Why does everything have to be so painful?” Jay said, missing a trout and hooking up with a coyote willow’s strike behind him.

    Thats what I say over and over in my mind when I go fishing. I'm still at the stage of having more difficult moments than joyous ones. But I must be a glutton for punishment, or torturing myself as a form of penance for all my wrong doings, I keep going out on the water, not catching anything just literally waving a rod in the air and laying down the line in the hope that one day I'll figure it out.

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  30. Indeed! I'd rather endure the pain of being on the water in the winter, than endure the worse pain of regret in not having gone fishing at all!!!

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  31. Wholelarderlove - Even once figured, it's still painful. ;)

    Tom - Exactly! It's always worth it in hindsight!

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  32. You remind me of a remark made between me and a close friend 30 plus years ago when we were suffering hyperthermia but continued fishing as the grayling wouldn't leave us alone! "I'll be glad when we've had enough!"
    :)
    Merry Christmas to you, your friends and family.

    Regular Rod

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  33. Regular Rod - And we shall never have enough, shall we? Thank goodness for that! :) Merriest of Christmases to you and yours!

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  34. As I age, pain is an unfortunate reminder of the years I'm racking up. I love the way you push yourself. It certainly works for me. Pain prods one to move and keep living life and for me that movement is the best painkiller! Also,running COLD water over frozen fingers works best for the pain when you come inside and the feeling comes back. Loved reading this.You always evoke so many memories (as you can tell from the numerous comments you get.)

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  35. All pain washes away with the placement of unfurled cast,the tightening of the line and the beautiful work of nature's creator displayed along the side of a redband. Nicely done. I'll be stopping by regularly.

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  36. Hart - "movement is the best painkiller" that is probably the best mantra for life I've heard. And cold on cold is so painful...but you're right, just like hot tea on a hot day, it works!

    Dean - Many thanks for stopping by, and I'm glad you enjoyed enough to do so again!

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  37. My son and I have a saying. "If it's a pain, you must be doing it right.".

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  38. John - That sounds like something very nearly my Dad would say...wise words! Thanks much for stopping by!

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  39. No pain, no game, although luckily it doesn’t always have to be that way. But, however beautifully it is written, once again, I can’t believe that the pain I’m reading comes from the fishing… so hang on there will you!

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  40. lonesome piker - I'm hanging on! You too, ok? Cheers.

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