By Lana Turnbull
When I was a little girl growing up in the Delta, I constantly rotated between being the “little lady” my parents were trying their best to raise and the “tomboy” that did the fun things like climbing trees and my personal favorite…fishing. Even now, in the late spring when the sun is warm and the breeze is soft, there are days that just feel perfect for a trip to the lake or nearby river for a little fishing…only now, the whole idea is more often symbolic rather than experiential. In other words, when I can’t fish, I dream about it, I remember it and I savor the times that I spent with my best friend Katy on a lake bank or in a small motor boat with a cane pole, a cork bobber, and a few crickets or minnows ready to sacrifice for the cause of fresh bream or white perch for supper.
It seemed to me that the whole concept of going fishing was so simple then. It didn’t cost much. It didn’t take a lot of planning, and there was no need to alert the media that we were taking off for a few hours away from everything. How much harder it feels these days. For one thing, as grownups we fill our lives with so many activities and responsibilities that the challenge of just taking off for an afternoon sometimes appears insurmountable. Then there is the whole “fishing merchandizing” industry that makes a simple bamboo pole and a red bobber look like something man invented before we discovered fire. When you think about it, that’s probably not far from the truth. We don’t really need special hats or designer coolers, state of the art rods, sonar fish finders or practically “life-like” artificial bait, just to wet a hook and take our chances. Everything has gotten way too complicated for me.
I long for just a simple day with friends like Katy and Lizzie, my granddaddy’s snake-killing Jack Russell terrier at my side, a peanut butter sandwich and a bottle Coke for sustenance, and the sound of katydids filling the thick summer air. It never really mattered if we caught anything, the point was to experience the sheer freedom of just being away from it all. When I look back, I don’t even remember what it was I had to get away from then, maybe just table manners, clean hands and presentable shorts with no mud or grass stains on the seat. I’m not really sure now, but whatever it was, it surely felt good to escape.
In the last few years I can count on one hand the times I have been fishing, but that doesn’t keep me from drifting back in my thoughts to those perfect days. In fact, just sitting on the front porch and taking in the sounds of the woods, listening to the crickets and watching the birds can almost take me there. So I am recommending a new therapy for anybody who is feeling a little uptight and stressed out. Set up an automatic response to your email that simply says…gone fishin’, then turn off the computer, shut off the phone and walk away. There might not be a lake for miles, but you can still unplug, walk outside, close your eyes and just listen. You might not have fresh fish for supper, but hey…you probably will be so relaxed, you won’t even care.