Each month, wordpress.com, the host of my blog, issues a writer’s prompt. This month’s prompt is the word GREEN, and this is my submission.
I’m often asked by old friends about my retirement to the green fields of Florida, and what I do to amuse myself all the livelong day. Knowing me well, many of them assume I do a lot of fishing—because it’s true, there are few pleasures in life to compare to the solitary joys of fishing. But only, of course, if it’s done properly.
It’s probably true that there are as many ways to fish as there are people who go fishing. So the right way will be defined differently by each of us, meaning how I do it could be totally inappropriate for anyone else.
But as a younger man in the evergreen wilds of northern Ontario, my routine was perfection, itself—or almost, since there was one flaw, which I shall come to.
As I remember, the proper fishing excursion would begin quite early in the morning, when all save the birds were still asleep. I’d rise quietly, so quietly as to pass unnoticed by comrades on my way from the cabin to the water’s edge. My weathered, green canoe, already laden with the necessary gear, would be launched smoothly into the mist-enshrouded lake. My body would stretch exultantly as the paddle cut deeply through the water’s mirrored, green surface. The pleasure had begun.
I’d be well offshore when the sun first brought the forest alight in lively greens, bouncing and dancing its way through the translucent leaves. I’d watch as the mist lifted, a curtain rising before an entranced audience of one.
As the green water parted before my craft, bowing away in widening ripples to lap gently against the shore, the lilting lament of a loon might be all that broke the silence. Great granite slabs, topped by lush, green bush and trees, plunged down into the lake, which tossed back their image from its glassy, green depths.
Peace, rampant upon nature’s field. The pleasure was full-known.
Alas, it would not last. For to fish is to interrupt the sylvan sequence of morning life, to disturb the natural ebb and flow. Yet, not to fish would have denied the ostensible purpose of the visit.
And therein lay the flaw in my perfect way to fish. The act would have been almost a sacrilege in nature’s green cathedral of calm, and devoid of any joy. All the pleasure would have been shattered by my clumsy intrusions.
Thus, I had to adapt in order to come to grips with the incongruity of being a fisherman who doesn’t like to fish. My battered, green tackle box always contained a book or two—a novel, perhaps, or a favourite book of verse. It held my harmonica, that ‘one-man band’ with which I could while away countless hours. And there was always a camera, loaded and ready.
In short, I still went fishing, but I did not fish. When I reached my special, green-encircled fishing cove, I’d cease paddling, sink back in the bottom of the canoe, and just drift ‘til it was time to go back.
Metallic-green waterbugs would skitter their erratic dash across the water, an occasional, green-and-blue-bejewelled fish would jump with a splash. And whenever a kingfisher darted down to stand on the prow of the canoe, I would know I’d become a piece of the peaceful scene I was observing—as one with my surroundings, at once apart and a part of them.
There were the inevitable questions from the greenhorns, of course, when I’d return from each excursion. “Where’d you fish? What were you using? Did you catch anything?”
“Catch and release,” I’d explain modestly. Or I’d say, “Nothing was biting, just a few nibbles.”
In that respect, I guess, I was like a true fisherman. I would never tell anyone where I’d been when I was fishing.
That would have spoiled everything.