Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Purist

Lately I've been reading a book by John Gierach called "Death, Taxes, and Leaky Waders." It's the first book I've read about fishing and I really love it. Not only do I love his style (personal stories with a humorist twist) but his stories are also true (well, as much as possible considering he is a FISHERMAN).

Quite often I read in bed at night before going to sleep and Seth is there with me reading a book of his own. Those who know me well know that I don't often do much more than smile when I think something is funny. Books rarely make me laugh out loud. But this book has me laughing constantly. Seth is always looking over at me like I'm crazy. I laugh at stuff that regular sane people wouldn't bother to bat an eyelash at. It's so funny to me that I can read this guy's stories and think that I have had the exact same experiences. It actually makes me jealous sometimes because I wish I had thought to write about it first. I'd like to just cut and paste his words as my own but the law calls that "plagiarism"... government... always trying to hold me down.

Anyway, back to my point. In one of the chapters of his book, Gierach talks about fly fishing 'purists'. He labels a 'purist' as one who "fishes exclusively with a fly rod, .... he owns a spinning rod and sometimes uses it, but he doesn't take it seriously, doesn't talk about it much (is, to tell the truth, a little embarrassed about it), and stores it separately from his fly tackle." OK, so maybe I'm a purist. Are you happy? I said it. I'M A PURIST!

I guess fly fishing is kind of like religion. Whatever YOU believe is 'right' and you wish that everyone would just see the light and realize that your way is best. It's not that you look down on other people, you just feel sorry for them because they are missing out on something so much better. Then you try to secretly convert them to your way of thinking by using some sort of tricky covert tactics. They don't realize this of course until it's too late.

In all honesty, up until Thanksgiving weekend this year I thought I was a purist. Fly fishing was the only way to go. I owned a spinning rod, but I thought of it as you would a bike with training wheels. I was too old for that now... too smart... too talented. I'd use it occasionally maybe, just to goof around with, but I was a serious fly fisher now, I couldn't be bothered with that sort of childish riff-raff.

As part of the Thanksgiving weekend plans, my father-in-law thought it would be fun to take Seth and I out trolling in his flat bottomed canoe. I had never been fishing in a boat before, let alone trolling, so I decided to at least try it. Maybe I'd get lucky and catch one of those giant lake fish or something.

I have to admit I was a bit skeptical though. The thought of just sitting on a slow moving boat all day waiting for some fish to bite the line didn't sound like it'd be my cup of tea. I'm not much of an ice fisher because I don't like to just sit and watch a bubble all day. Ditto for the worm and bubble setup on a lake. The bubble is my enemy. I prefer to constantly be casting and moving.

So, there we were, the three of us out on this little boat in the middle of a deserted reservoir. It took a minute to get used to the fact that there was a seemingly endless abyss of frigid water right underneath me, but soon I was relaxed and was just along for the ride. I had to admit it was beautiful.

We trolled along the outside edge of the lake with our copper spooned leaders dragging in the water. I finally learned the reason for the reverse setting on my spinning rod. Wait a minute... did I just say SPINNING ROD? I thought I'd swore those off for life! I was a purist now. Only fly rods right? Wrong.

OK I admit it. I used a spinning rod and I liked it. I liked sitting there in the boat lazily fishing and gazing at the deep green water and blue sky. It was one of the few times that I honestly did not care if I caught a fish or not. I lounged around in a cramped little boat all day eating Hostess chocolate donuts with worm guts on my hands and drinking Dr. Pepper and I liked it. We did catch some fish by the way, but it was more of a pleasant side note. The icing on the cake.

So maybe I'm not a purist. Not quite anyway. Crazy things happen when you keep an open mind and try new things. I better watch out.


It's Me said...

Great story! I think you are becoming a better writer with each story. Great combination of information and humor!

heidi said...



Every WORD is relatable this has your VOICE is this something you submitted for publication??!

That last thing is just a matter of time, I think. This is totally publishable. Everyone I know should read this! Well, maybe not everyone. Just anyone who could relate to one of the following:
*reading in bed
*laughing out loud
*thinking you were totally RIGHT about something
*trickily, fishily trying to convert someone to something
*experiencing beauty
*experiencing unEXPECTED beauty
*discovering something new/learning you might POSSIBLY, although it's UNLIKELY, have been wrong about some small something just ONCE
*riding bikes, without training wheels (I LOVED EVERYTHING BUT I ESP. LOVED THIS COMPARISON. IT JUST "NAILED" EVERYTHING FOR ME. LIKE THE PIVOT OF THE WHOLE PIECE. And, I do love bikes. But who hasn't outgrown something stupid that's... not so stupid after all?)

The ENTIRE WHOLE of this AMAZING! It all felt inevitable and just what I wanted to read. I could hardly bear to read the last half I loved the first so much and was SO wanting to jump over and comment to you something like holy crap Karen, and the last half was even better! Will you sign a copy and send it to me? With a signed picture? I'm serious. I'm in the online white pages I think. You're about to be SUPER FAMOUS!!

I think everyone who reads this, who relates to any of the above asterisked stuff can't help but find this SO profound and relatable, and, funny and disgusting at the same time. ("eating... donuts with worm guts on my hands"?! i thought i was DYING for you to cook for me someday, somehow... now i'm not so sure... :)

Oh, that's another group to add--people who relate to:
*eating sweet but potentially disgusting things (chocolate snack cakes, I love 'em AND yet are they truly FOOD? Paul and I are also semi-addicted to these Little Debbie Boston Creme Rolls...)

You know, there's this great funny nice neat journalist guy who's covered outdoors stuff for the Idaho Statesman for decades, I think he'd love to read this! Maybe just to give a comment or two? Help a fellow fisherwriter out? I'll try to create a link in a different comment box.

Good for you, Kid! I can't wait to read your upcoming book of Hilarious Outdoor Adventures (revealing beauty, and, introspective profundity) and buy from your hot line of fisherwoman's clothing! I bet it'd look good on me, who says wearing it would require that I'd have to touch a fish?

Randomly... I think maybe my favorite words were:
"I lounged... and I liked it." Italicize "I liked it" in your mind for me. That made me realize! THIS piece would sound AMAZING read aloud! Maybe my bro could tell you how you post audio. Because he's got a poetry blog with "read live" poems. "stlouisred@blogspot.com" I think.

Amazedly dazedly,


(i skipped ahead on this hopper dropper blog cuz i saw "death, taxes" etc and I've been WANTING to read that book!)

heidi said...

It's not linking, I guess that's a blog comment restriction, but: I googled "idaho statesman outdoors" and you can click on "Pete Zimowsky's columns" & that includes a picture of him, and he also has an "Into the Outdoors" blog. Here's his brief bio:

Pete Zimowsky has been covering the outdoors for the Idaho Statesman for about 34 years writing about skiing, kayaking, hiking, backpacking, hunting, camping and fishing. In that time he has worn out eight pairs of waders, 10 pairs of hiking shoes, three kayaks and five rigs traveling all across Idaho from desert canyons to alpine meadows.

Have a blast! He can't wait to hear from you. I communicated with his just now, telepathically. :)