My friend Alex Cerveniak emailed me this spring. He was organizing a weekend fishing trip to the Adirondacks. He and his 10 year old son Cole would be there for an extended weekend, and other friends dropping in as they could.
I had one night open. Thursday. It was a long drive, but I wanted to go. To fish with a friend. To fish in the Adirondacks again. So off I went.
It was a long drive, and anyone who knows me would be stunned to find out I was the first one to arrive. But there I sat at our prearranged campsite when Alex and Cole arrived. Then Matt and Ed pulled in. After a quick hello, Cole was busting at the seams to get their tent set up and get on the water.
Well, he got his dad organized setting up the camp, and he was ready to suit up in his Christmas new waders. Once he was ready, who was sitting there waiting, already suited up in his new Valentine's Day waders? Yep. Me.
So with his dad's permission, off we went. In the half hour he'd been there, Cole had already proven himself a master of finding anything wiggly, crawly, slippery or slimy. As we walked down towards the creek, he was on the hunt, narrating as we went.
And then out of the blue, he said it.
You remind me of my grandpa. I think its your sense of humor. Or beard. Goatee actually, to be exact. (Yes, that's fairly accurate. A 10 year old Henny Youngman).
I thought- Ouch. But then did the math.......... truth. Hard to argue.
So we get to the edge of the river, and he slows down. Stops. I step in and he looks at me, uncertain. I asked him if he'd waded before. Yes, he said, but never in waders.
I assured him that it was just the same as wet wading, but he'd have better traction because of his wading boots. He looked at me.
You're probably too old to want to hold hands, I said. He glared back. Well, I said, you know what fishing buddies do when they are in big water? We lock elbows. Like this- I held my arm out, bent at the elbow. I assured him my friend Bruiser and I had crossed a heavy current like that in New Mexico this spring. He slowly extended his arm, hooked it through mine, then stepped in.
He took three steps, then gasped, Wait!
Is everything OK?
A long pause, then, I didn't expect it too feel like this! Like what I asked? He said he'd thought the waders would stay big around him, keep the water away from him. But the water mashes them onto me. I can feel the water, I just don't get wet! I said, Is that OK?
He was quiet a minute, and then said, That's awesome.
It took me years to figure that out. That the pressure of the water means so much. The wind. The world. Contact. Engagement.
Why I fish. Paddle. Paint.