When I was in elementary school, my dad—a professional violinist—gigged all over the state, and sometimes out of state, to make ends meet. One of his reoccurring jobs was in Central City playing for the summer opera season. Central City is in a beautiful mountain area where the streams are cold, fast, and full of Rainbow Trout. When we were lucky, my mom and siblings and I got to stay up in Central City with my dad in a cabin so our family wasn’t apart so much. And some of those times, when there wasn’t a matinée performance of Puccini or Mozart or Gounod, we got to go fishing together.
My dad had all that special tackle: the waders, creel basket, rod and reel, and all the other stuff needed to convince a fish who was just minding his own business to swallow the bait and end up on the dinner table. So that he could get the most of the opportunity, my dad tied line with a hook onto long sticks and had my siblings and me stand at the bank of the river and hold our bait out in the water while he waded out and executed his fly fishing performance. I don’t remember that our custom-built poles every snagged a fish. But when Daddy’s creel was full, he taught us how to whack the fish on big rocks for a fast death then slice straight up their bellies and gut them with a quick swipe of the thumb. I got pretty good at it. (I was a tom boy. Somehow, I didn’t mind—which I can’t even comprehend at this point in my life.)
My kids’ Uncle Grant gave them the fun experience of fishing when we gathered on our annual summer family reunions in Minnesota. They have great memories of wonderful adventures, and I wasn’t the one who had to execute or eviscerate the poor little fishies.
Fishing has been ubiquitous in humans’ existence since the beginning of time. Back when we were hunter/gatherers, we were also fishermen, we just didn’t have enough language yet to add the grunts at the end of our title to include that fish part. The Bible is full of fish stories, both metaphorical and retelling of day to day events. And it’s fun to consider all the many idioms we use regularly that come from fishing: He bought it, hook, line, and sinker; She is a fish out of water; Come on already, fish or cut bait; I’ll do it so you’re off the hook; Man you opened a can of worms; You’re really hooked on her aren’t you?; I have bigger fish to fry than that idiot. The list of fish idioms goes on and on and on.
Today my nephews are coming over for the day. I think we’ll need to do something to commemorate the day, something local, wormless, and gutless. I have a deck of cards. I think this is going to probably be a good day to play a game of Go Fish.
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