Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"We Keep On," They Say

A fire was roaring in Gila National Forest. We saw evidence here, over seven hundred miles to its north. Smoky haze filled the air, which was more than enough to drive canyon residents away from their coffee and papers, down to the corner store on highway 72 (which runs the gamut from Coca-Cola to fishing licenses, paper plates to instant rice -- with a post office and veterinary clinic to boot). It’s the headquarters of all happenings: accidents, road conditions, lost dogs, power outages, pay phone. And the place for reassurance that our homes would not shortly be up in flames.

The smell was faint, but it was there -- as if my friend at the top of the ridge was grilling breakfast. I wouldn’t put that past him, but it turns out it was just thousands of acres of New Mexico charring to a crisp. Fired up winds sucked up the continental divide with all the power that my old vacuum has lost; and the front range was hazy, like the Norlin Quad on the 20th of April.

Now, Jay always says to let the weather tell you what to do, to tell you where to go. Play the hand you’re dealt, he says -- not what you’d like to have been. When you’re given a full house, don’t pine for four of a kind. He seldom makes plans of where to fish more than a day ahead of time and sometimes changes the morning of. Although, I should be clear that this is not ficklery of a fair-weathered soul; rather, it’s the simple fact that on a moody, overcast spring day, the midges will be popping off the Big Thompson, and the bass fishing will be, well, not so good. Sometimes, we go purposefully towards the bad weather. But sometimes not.

Let's go!
A few days after the fire started, the weather turned – a forecast falling from the upper 70s to 60s, and 80s to 70 in the flatlands. Although less smokey, the fire and the wind continued -- in the end, bringing danced for rainclouds. However, my parents were visiting (Jay’s sister Eva was, too), and we had promised them some warmwater fishing, a little bit of the Midwest, a little bit of home here on the high prairie. My sister Erica had even given up a day of crimpy highcountry boulders for it. And so we packed and loaded up three fly rods, two spinning rods, a bag of snacks, and a Banjo.

And we went with the plan.

As we walked to the pond, the wind blew harder, and my hat off.  “Aw, it’s always worse on a ridge,” Erica encouraged -- trying to stay positive, trying to be more like mom...a never ending storehouse of optimism. We all hoped that when we got to lower ground we’d be sheltered a bit. But my hope is always tempered with just a pinch of doubt. The good sort though, the sort that keeps you fully awake.

And watchful.

The water was cool, numbing to wade – about as useful to our cause as a fart in a mitten – and still, the wind blew. Hard. But we all leaned into it and kept on. After all, that’s what Blocks do, I’ve always been told, we keep on. And I’ve also always been told that hard work will, in the end, be rewarded...it will pay off. I’ve always believed the former is true, the latter remains, however, experientially only an ideal. My dad always told me that there are never excuses for quitting, going back on your word, or stopping when the going gets hard. You put your head down, dig in your heels, clench your teeth, and you pull. You do your best because you never know when it will be required. Life has a way of testing us, I’ve found.

My mom Sue, with a Green Sunfish.
And the weather has a way of proving itself right. No bass for you, the pond snickered, hour after hour. We all heard it -- above a few carp caught, and my mom’s giggles over the self-indulgent bluegill and green sunfish nabbing out from rocks for her fly. Yet we stayed -- because of stubbornness, and because of curiosity – which, I believe, you’d find to be the largest part of a fisherman’s brain if you were to diagram in bright colors according to thought patterns.

And then suddenly, nearing the end of the day, nearing the time when you put on the fleece you packed for the just in case of Colorado weather, and nearing the time when your stomach starts to rumble you home -- the wind stopped, dead in its tracks from tiring us out. Hatching bugs and feeding fish began pimpling the surface, as if it had in an instant entered adolescence.

And as rods bent, faces turned upwards with grins and hollers and whoops.

And I smiled, knowing that hard work does pay off in the end.

At least, sometimes.


My dad Bryan with a very nice bass!


It had a large mouth...




Eva -- with a big grin. And bass too.


"Oh hey!" Erica caught "a miniature fish!"

50 comments:

  1. I always enjoy reading your posts Erin. Persistence paid off; I like being rewarded for continued effort. Cool Carp too.

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    1. Mr. P. - The carp were way cool here..."hot" in fact! Small but sassy. Lots of fun! Thanks as always!

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  2. It's nice when mother nature takes some time off to give us a brief slice of good fishing; especially when it's with family.

    "Jay always says to let the weather tell you what to do, to tell you where to go" - that should be the first lesson taught to new anglers.

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    1. Dead on, Steve, though it seems that the weather has been telling me where to go all spring.

      A grand outing, Erin. All the best folks were there.

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    2. Steve - It really is lovely when she gives us a break. Last spring was something else entirely. And yeah, Jay has some pretty clever ideas. ;-)

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    3. Mike - All the best indeed, and a treasured day.

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  3. That's great. That post has such a fun family feel.

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    1. Kevin - "The Fam" always has a good time...weather permitting or not! Thanks!

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  4. A family that fishes together...and Banjo who approves.

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    1. Brk Trt - We're a pretty happy tribe.

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  5. It's so good to see a happy family enjoying each other and the day.

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    1. Howard - I'm very thankful for them, that's for sure. :)

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    2. I think I'm a brother from a different mother?

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  6. I could handle midges popping off the Big T right now... What great family fun! Good for you.

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    1. RD - I could handle that too...especially seeing as I'm sitting at a work desk! Thanks for stopping by!

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  7. What a fun trip--and a whole family that can get obsessed enough to wait the tough times out. Good for fishing and other things. Thanks, Erin.

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    1. Jim - Again proved to me why fishing is really just a microcosm of life. And they both just keep feeding each other. Thanks, Jim!

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  8. Twas a great weekend - good company, great guide, and eventually willing fish. pa

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    1. Pa - I'm glad they came around... <3

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    2. Life is always an adventure when we gather and don't forget to wear red for the journey.

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    3. sgb - Never a dull moment...for sure. :)

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  9. Nice looking bass, both Eva's and your dad's. Never caught one, might be on the bucket list, but that's getting shorter. Wow, you're getting smoke from NM's fires...hope it ain't portends of things to come. We had snow over the weekend, nice new coat on the mtns.
    Fishing with your dad an mom is a treasure beyond material things, as I think you know. The memories last.
    Cheers, Erin.
    Mike

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    1. Mike (Should Fish More) - For sure! On the bucket list! They're a hoot and a half. And yeah, I'm already worried about what this summer has in store for the mountains of Colorado. So dry. Although, we did get a bit of snow beginning of last week too. Every bit helps! Thanks as always...and yes...I know. :)

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  10. Whitewater & baldy fires merged over the weekend- making the largest fire in our state's history 150K+ acres and growing. Coupled with the Las Conchas fire last year June is turning to be the mean season down here. Pray for early monsoons~

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    1. Royal Wulff - Wow...yeah, I checked on the updates and flickr page yesterday. Devastating. Praying and fingers tightly crossed, for good measure.

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  11. I think that the lack of early action was merely the lake trembling at the onslaught of a family of Block's - a formidable force to vie against and, inevitably to cede to.

    Great tale Erin.

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    1. Dave - Perhaps it did hear the hoard of footfalls! ;) Thanks as always for taking the time...

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  12. Wow. Great read! "from Coca-Cola to fishing licenses, paper plates to instant rice" Nice. "the front range was hazy, like the Norlin Quad on the 20th of April" Too funny!

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    1. Jay - And the fire smoke might have actually smelled better, too! I'm sorry I didn't get a photo of you...out there catching carp, barefoot in the reeds.

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  13. Good on ya, family Block!!!! (As we Aussies say.)((The "good on ya" part!)) A "whineless" family it would seem. "Fart in a mitten"...haven't heard that one before! Not that that is what stands out for me in yet another great story.

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    1. Hart - Nope! No whiners here. "Fart in a mitten"...heard it from a friend a few months back...and have been dying to get it in a post. For kicks and giggles. :)

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    2. Hey Hart we may try to make it up to Colorado and meet you in person...mix the families and shake things up a bit ;-)

      sgb

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    3. That would be great! And I'm betting it would be a tasty mix indeed!

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  14. just rolling with the punches...a good way to fish. although, i'm starting to realize the wind is a hard thing to escape. glad the fan shut off long enough for a few smiles.

    ...like the Norlin Quad. funny stuff right there :-)

    Cheers

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    1. Sanders - I work oh, maybe 50/60 feet from the quad. ;) Funny funny stuff goes on there, indeed. Thanks as always for stopping by!

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  15. I sure enjoyed the read. What a great message, too. Just keep on keeping on! Family's who "pull" together stay together. Nothing wrong either with a big ol' Carp, or a big mouth bass any day. In addition, I am a fool for Blegill and other Panfish. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Mel - Thanks much for stopping by! And warmwater is a blast...so many options...so many possibilities.

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  16. Optimism and persistence, two of the most important traits for a fisherman I think...nice story and glad you had the patience to wait it out...

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    1. David - I think I agree with you. And both are, at times, quite trying. But always worth the effort. Thanks much for stopping by!

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  17. I just spent about 5 minutes trying to think of ways a fart in a mitten could be useful.... I think I managed a few. It partly depends on how cold the hands are inside the mittens and, of course, who's mittens and who's fart.... :) Thanks for a great read. Glad you could get some good quality family time.

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    1. David - I haven't quite figured it out yet either. ;-) So your "few" are better than I could muster! Many thanks for taking the time to stop by!

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  18. Hi Erin- So much good in here. A story and your thoughts. Pieces of information and images. I like the way it flows but makes me think too. I liked the family values,the smiles and sticking it out. I kept coming back to the idea of the fisherman's brain and the color diagram. Curiosity.Yes,I think so.

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    1. Scott - It must be curiosity that keeps us coming back, eh? And I have a picture in my head now of some museum exhibit, with a brain and different thoughts lighting up. :)

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  19. The only thing I know about weather is it's subject to change. Good friends and Family last a life time.

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    1. Fly Waters Edge - Kevin - True statement!

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  20. Your father gives sage advice, at least I think so as those beliefs are mine and those I taught to my boys. Rare are my times lately with the kids so I can imagine the joy you felt with your family. Weather may change there, it does everywhere change of seasons, so we pack for it and persevere as your Dad might. Nice story Erin.

    Gregg

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    1. Gregg - My father is a wise, wise man. And these words of yours "so we pack for it and persevere"... therein lies truth. Thank you so much for stopping by and taking time to read.

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  21. Here's to April 20th and "mitten farts"....fantastically funny references!!!

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    1. Seth - Glad you like those! Cheers!

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