–WARNING: There are no dripping fish depicted below–
It’s every Poppa’s fervent wish, and every Significant Other’s deepest desire, to instill the love of the Out of Doors in their spouse or children.
Unfortunately, we are in such a rush to do so we tend to be heavy handed, insensitive, and miserable about instruction, as we’re so heavily invested in the outcome that we have no patience for anything less than superlatives.
I know, as I was asked (and often paid) by both parents and boyfriends to assist in training their latest “squeeze” or grandchild to shrug off mosquitoes, ignore thousand pound bovines blocking trail, sharp hooks, balky loops and unforgiving breezes, and how to bask in the afterglow of a harsh sunburn … All those Badges of Courage that mature the initiate into the hardened angler.
For me, it was akin to curing Cancer, the Impossible Task, yet the lure of certain defeat was always a goad to try different approaches with each new candidate, hoping to find that singular lure that would draw them into the sport just as we had been.
The “Father-Son Bonding Trip” was always the easiest, as any gathering of Maleness begat competition. Once the kid had six or seven more fish than Dad, they were pliable and giggling … as, “I whipped Poppa” tales were great things to relate to Ma upon their return.
Gals – on the other hand – have always been a tough sale. Bug repellant smells like hydraulic fluid (and stains clothing), and the lack of a bathroom (with all necessary locks, shutters, and blinds) never truly warmed the participants to the outdoorsy venue.
Girls are sturdy and can put up with all manner of hardships, but most don’t care for suffering like guys do. Steel wadded through fish lips as well as their own discomfort (icy cold, blistering heat, blood sucking insects, etc.) does not motivate them to relay these tales with pounding of chest – something male members of the species relish as proof of courage.
The “Red Breasted Warbling Splatterer” option always resonated. Where the guide takes the client’s minds off their own misery and points out Mother Nature’s finest visual spectacles. Flowers and songbirds are as big a hit as air conditioning and white wine – and I never missed an opportunity to trot out all four … often simultaneously.
… and in all those outings I realized that one day it would be my slack-jawed offspring that I’d be instructing – or my gal that I’d have to introduce to the Woods – and how would I do so differently?
I call it “Seduction of the Innocent” – named after the great Comic Book trial of the 1950’s, wherein the angler introduces his hobby in a non-threatening manner, hopefully linked with something known and friendly …
Actual gripping a rod or fishing comes many trips later – once they’ve been lured close to the rocks by the Siren’s sweet song …
In this case the subject has a consuming passion for wildflowers and breakfast – that she doesn’t have to cook herself.
Note that she is warmly dressed and waterproofed (with my new Columbia rain jacket), shows no signs of suffering whatsoever, and the vehicle is within spitting distance should she need rescue …
Now the panorama expands to show the fishing angle. There are no rods or tackle visible, as she’s being treated to flowers and food absent any agenda on my part … (blush). This hour of absolute awesomeness is solely for her, as her pleasure is the main event and the proximity to water is merely chance.
There is no mud on her clothing, no ice chests spilling ice and beer, no overly loud Rap music to compete with the calls of Quail, Goose, or Pheasant … nothing to interrupt the Majesty of Nature.
… and yes, for a few short moments I have to duck into the brush and bite on my forefinger – knowing that I am missing out on some spectacular fishing – all for the promise of future blessings and possible companionship …
While I understand the flowers look stunning, yet so would a massive swirl engulfing my deer hair popper. In this careful rehersal I recognize it is our impatience that is our undoing, and this brief gesture will go a long way to many more hours afield.
Impatience is the Enemy.
Us guys are always in such a hurry to hook our quarry within a single weekend that we lose sight of the endgame. Keep her fed, dry, and within shower distance … admire a few posies and gasp in admiration at the perennials – promising to till the backyard accordingly, and then lie in wait in the center of the web until she suggests, “it wasn’t so bad…”