I don’t know about you, but I had one of those weeks, a busy period when I could barely keep up with myself. I’m sure you’ve had them. You know, when you’re so distracted by your thoughts and the lists that you’re constantly making in your head, that you try and lock the front door of your house with the car key fob? Yes, one of those weeks. I won’t bore you with the details but at certain points it just felt a bit too much. I have a friend who uses the expression, “the world is too much with us.” I know when she says it, she’s really busy but I never fully understood the meaning. "Google it," says you. Well, I did. “The World Is Too Much With Us”, is a sonnet by William Wordsworth. He speaks angrily about people living in the modern age. He says we have lost our connection to nature and to everything meaningful: “Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers: / Little we see in Nature that is ours.” This past week, I certainly had to agree.
One of the things I love most about travelling is the break from a routine. You’re in a different head space. You have time to connect with and appreciate the beauty around you. In the hurried pace of day to day working life, it’s a real struggle to smell the roses or remember to water them, in my case. I covered a lot of ground in my frantic week and ticked off just about everything on my “to do” or “to buy” list, but there were a few moments in my capitalist chaos when Wordsworth would have been really proud. It was my father's birthday. My mother and I were to meet him at the cabin in the evening and have a special dinner complete with balloons, presents and a cake. We would get up the next morning, on his birthday, and go trouting. When we arrived, Dad wasn’t keen on an early start the next day. He preferred to fish that evening. We gobbled down our supper, loaded up the rods and off we went.
We headed to a pond on Newfoundland’s southern shore where my father has cast his line for about 40 years. I won’t tell you what community, a man’s favourite fishing hole shouldn’t be shared. The sun dipped down and the sky turned an orangey red. There wasn’t a sound other than the black flies feasting. We had eaten our supper, now we were theirs. Just as it got dark, the fish started to jump. My father hauled in 2 in quick succession while I struggled to get comfortable with my cast. My hook was sinking too deep, getting caught in the grassy bottom. When the line first tightened, I was convinced I had a baiser (Newfoundland word for large trout) on the hook. Oh that feeling. There’s not much in life that compares. You can’t wait to reel in the trout and see it dance. Now, the grass I snagged wasn’t near as animated as my father’s fish but what I loved about those moments was the anticipation. How big will it be? Will I keep it on the hook? How many more will I catch once I stash that wiggler away in the basket?
Fishing is a lot like life, isn’t it? You give it your best shot and throw out your line. You never know what your chances are but you try. While the outcome is unknown, the ups and downs of excitement and disappointment keep you hooked. I forgot about every little thing that had worried me earlier that day. My only purpose now was to bring in a beauty for a birthday breakfast the next morning. My father reeled in three more fine trout. I, on the other hand, had caught enough grass now for some kind of pond life stir-fry but I wasn’t going away without a fish. Then, there was that fantastic feeling again. My line was tight with my hook embedded in a fierce swimmer. I wound and wound my reel as fast as I could. After a minute long battle, up came the longest trout I had ever seen. It was 2 feet, if not more. On closer inspection, it was, in fact, an eel. We did our best to wrestle the lengthy catch onto shore but it wasn’t meant to be and the tricky trout imposter slithered away. In the end, it didn’t matter. What mattered were those thrilling moments with my father and the hope we both felt as we stood at the edge of the pond.
I’m anxious to trout again soon and might even get out on the water in the annual food fishery now underway in Newfoundland and Labrador. Thousands of people will try their luck at luring a cod. There’s a 15 fish limit per boat and many will handily fill their quota. The amount of cod is easily calculated but what’s harder to define is the benefit that comes with those exhilarating seconds hanging over the gunnel of a boat.
I’m telling you, my father and Wordsworth have it all figured out. You can’t be on vacation all the time. If you’re having a rough and busy week, my advice is simple: put down your smart phone and get yourself some worms. Get out into nature. Just go fish.
Until next time, rove on.