As a teenager growing up in the mountains of central Pennsylvania I spent many summer Saturdays fishing. My equipment was always ready and I jumped at every chance to be on the streams fishing for trout. I was so efficient it was just a matter of slipping on my hip boots, fishing vest (with all my tackle), and grabbing a rod. Life was good and carefree.
I always planned on returning to that favorite pastime someday. I still have all my equipment stored in the garage. I was truly an outdoorsman. Now I’m not claiming I was Survivor Man, but I spent many a night at camp sites and days in the dense woods. Depending on the time of year, it was sometimes with a fishing rod, other times with a bow or rifle. Hell, I even did a little trapping. I actually have some great stories (like frantically reloading a muzzle loader as a herd of deer were charging right at us).
This morning, rinsed clean from yesterday’s storms and the sun burning off the morning haze, reminded me of that time some thirty years ago. A perfect day to fish. Oh yes, the trout would be feeding for sure on a day like today. The muddiness would be settling and they would be hitting the bait (I liked mill worms) in a feeding frenzy. I stood on the patio as I let the dogs out and got caught up in the memory.
I heard a cough behind me. It was Ryan.
Whoosh (actually, more like a thwack to the nuts)… I was no longer sixteen years old. Life was not so carefree after all. Not one bit. I wasn’t an adolescent dreaming about women and my future. By damned I wasn’t even at my favorite fishing hole on Black Bear creek. I had been smiling, because I felt it leave my face. I was now a middle-aged man again, facing a relentless existence few people can even imagine. In that instant I traded in any hope of fishing and turned to face the unending back-breaking tasks that define my day.
I startled myself by saying something I usually think, but keep to myself, “I just want to get this life over with”. I could practically feel the energy drain from me. My head dropped and my shoulders sagged. I felt defeated, a sensation I rarely feel. I looked at my feet and willed them to take a step forward. I
walked plodded, like I was taking a stroll through the La Brea Tar Pits, back into reality. I wanted to move forward but my feet had other ideas. It was like they were attached with velcro to the floor.
Nope. I won’t be wetting a line today.