Saturday, April 29, 2017

As if She would Forgive Me

Up at 5:10 this morning to meet Noel Sell at 6:00, after getting up at 5:30 yesterday morning (27th) to fish with Mike, then going to my job to work hard eight hours, after posting. There was no way I would be late for Noel this morning. I arrived at 5:59. Took longer than expected. (Mike lives right around the corner and told me to call him anytime in lieu of his alarm.)

Warm out in the dark as I drove off with window down this morning.

We got on the big river and also unexpectedly, I felt disoriented. This wasn't exhaustion. There's never been a morning when I didn't wake up fresh to fish.

Many years ago, senior year of high school, I was at a party late. I didn't drink very much. Maybe equal to a six pack or two over five hours' time. Drinking age: 18. I enticed a girl away from the party to the swimming pool of some random residence. Repeatedly, she dove off the board, then I cannonballed off the board, and so on. She was top notch on the swim team. I didn't know how to dive. Suddenly, I remembered I had a State Federation Bass Tournament to fish. I looked at my waterproof watch. Exactly 3:00 a.m. This was in Lawrence Township, Mercer County. I had to be at Spruce Run Reservoir in three hours. Hunterdon County to the north.

So I let her go. I had worked on her all year and that was all. She refused to ever speak to me again. Bass? Instead of her?

Went home. Slept a little. Woke up OK. Drove an hour to Spruce Run Reservoir. Got there in plenty of time. But my assigned tournament partner smelled alcohol on my breath. The next eight hours did not go well....except for daydreaming about the girl. As if she would forgive me.

Ancillary to my thinking as I compose this essay, I've always remembered immediately approaching and driving my Ford Fairlane station wagon onto a bridge over the very river Noel and I fished this morning. This on the way to Spruce Run Reservoir that morning nearly 40 years ago. I must have remembered this moment a hundred times since then. And it's the only moment I have remembered of that drive, for as long as I can remember. Most of us sophisticated moderns do not believe in mysteries of the mind, but this to each our own demise. As Albert Einstein once emphasized, such mysteries are what life is all about. He said so most emphatically. That those who have no feeling for this are as good as dead. Why do I remember this moment? Over and over again. I don't know. But I fished with Noel this morning.

The obvious--sophisticated--response to my anecdote by route of explanation is to point out that I must have remembered the bridge because it spans a river. I fish. You can't know this, but that's not all it was. Depth psychologist Carl Jung called it numinosity, a word that Word underlines as misspelled. But Carl Jung was full of mystification, overly abstract ideation that obscures the depths as if they're too dangerous to see clearly. Most anyone will conjure glowing visions as if to make a cartoon caricature of the fact that word represents. The river as somewhere to fish was less of what I responded to in that moment.  

Here it is after midnight. During my eight-hour job shift in the Chef Studio today, I once surreptitiously whipped out my Handy Dandy Notebook (Blues Clues on TV was a temporary fascination for my young son he quickly outgrew.) I took the 3 x 5 out when I knew I was ahead of the work curve, and noted that tonight and tomorrow morning, I will finally get well rested again. Mostly tomorrow morning, since I'll be up to at least 3:00 a.m. working tonight. I don't punch "normal" hours as we say.

Noel fishes nearly every morning. I realized, when we had finished casting, that this is the first time I had applied my three-and-a-half foot spinning wand to a big river. I still didn't understand my disorientation, even so. To Noel, it seemed obvious. "I don't think I would do well on those little streams you fish."

I always need very specific relations to really understand my state. It was obvious to me I was on a big river and not used to fishing any of such size with my little rod, but not at all convincing as any cause to my understanding. Now that I'm not on that river, I understand my having been there in terms of spatial conception. Memory always helps sort things out for me. I sort of live after the fact. But then again, that's not the only way I live.

We caught one trout short of 12 in total, that numinous number of Christ's disciples. Noel and I both sang in the world-class Trinity Episcopal Church, Princeton, Choir of Men and Boys 40 years ago. Touring and recording was heady activity, but when you really get down to it, all of that is meaningless without the teachings it is supposed to represent. Noel catches his limit, cleans the trout, packages them, and gives them away exactly as Christ suggested, but never because Christ said so. At best, Christ suggested practices in essence universal to all of us.  


  1. You answered the question that's been on my mind all week, "would the short rod method work on a large river"? Sounds like you did well. JH

    1. It's the matter of wading. Noel got casts a little longer by his longer Loomis. He caught 7 on butterworms. I caught 4 on the eggs. But I didn't have the Garlic eggs that worked so well, previous morning. I missed so many hits, anyway, that maybe those eggs would have not have bettered the margin. The little rod did feel somewhat awkward in those broader surroundings.


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