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Hook, Line and Sinker

By Tony Hooker
From the river’s plashy bank,
Where the sedge grows green and rank,
And the twisted woodbine springs,
Upward speeds the morning lark
To its silver cloud — and hark!
On his way the woodman sings.
On the dim and misty lakes
Gloriously the morning breaks,
And the eagle’s on his cloud: —
Whilst the wind, with sighing, wooes
To its arms the chaste cold ooze,
And the rustling reeds pipe loud.

Just something I thought up this morning?  I wish.   These are the first two stanzas from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1825 poem ‘The Angler’s Song.’   

I suppose, dear readers, you’re wondering why I’m quoting a nearly 200-year-old poem with March Madness unfolding before our eyes, (my bracket is a dumpster fire, and we’re not even halfway through the first round) High School football kicking off (very different feel to the game last night.  Fun, but surreal) and the Cardinals and Cubs set to kick off the regular season in a few weeks.  

The truth be told, my thoughts have recently….turned to fishing.

Or maybe it’s not so much actual fishing, since I’ve caught a grand total of two fish since I was twelve.  The first one was a six-pound Walleye that I caught while ice fishing at lake Shelbyville.  It was such a beautiful specimen that Donnie B took it to a taxidermist and had it stuffed and mounted.  Tragically, I lost it when the Reebster’ s dog drug it out of my closet and ate it while I was in the Navy.  That’s right, while I was out defending life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, my mom’s dust mop of a dog destroyed the only prized token of my mostly unsuccessful sporting life.  How the chemicals and paint used  in preserving the fish didn’t kill Feisty the Shih tzu remains a mystery to this day.   The second fish I caught was a two-pound channel cat that I caught on a rattle trap at Deer Lake while seeing how far I could cast.  There I am, not even trying, and I hook on to a nice catfish.  I scored some major brownie points by cleaning my ill-gotten catch and giving it to my Grandma Grayhem, who loved herself some pan-fried catfish.  Of course, I kept the ill-gotten part to myself as grandma probably would have worried that the feds would come knocking at the door, looking for evidence of the contraband denizen of the pond.  But I digress.

I think what I’m actually longing for is the time to go fishing.  As I’ve shared countless times, my tree stand is my happy place.  I hope, perhaps futilely, that I can carve out a little time for staring at a bobber as the weather begins to warm.  Zen has been described as “a mind not fixed or occupied by thought or emotion and thus open to everything,” and that’s the best way I can describe how I feel when I’m in nature.  I think about everything and I think about nothing, and it’s an intoxicating state to be in.  So, as I move forward, I’m going to continue to try to find little moments like this, even if it’s only for an hour or less.  I encourage you to find your happy place too.  As we’ve all found out, life’s too short not to.

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