Take a quick moment to think about the last competitive game you played, the last outdoor activity in which you engaged, or the last time you did either with a youngster. Got it? Keep it in mind.
The terrifically nice weather in early November provided opportunities I really hadn’t expected. For example, I got to record a couple more songs on my guitar, outdoors! More exciting than that, however, were two bonus fishing times.
I grabbed the first one with my daughter Brenda and my nearly-six-year-old grandson Auggie on the afternoon of election day, November 3. The second came the next day as I soloed on a small lake in Pine County. These two experiences seemed to bring a lifetime of fishing adventures full circle for me, and now, looking back, I am glad they happened.
Brenda, Auggie and I hadn’t been floating on the Snake River for hardly ten minutes when Auggie apparently lost the post-cast grip on his fishing rod (his lures contain no hooks!). Down into the river it went, agonizingly slowly and not without a reasonable degree of tearful disappointment. I’m sure he expected a keeper-sized scolding would soon be on the stringer.
Instead, however, mother and grandpa embarked on a lengthy tale of fishing woes, including broken equipment, lost lures and anchors, and assorted other disasters, all from personal experience. Like hooks embedded in hands and skulls, some of these recollections hurt, but, before too long, Auggie’s grieving had passed, and he realized two important things: 1) even grown-ups suffer fishing catastrophes; and, 2) no one was upset at him. He “rodlessly” endured the next two hours by eating whatever food I brought along!
I had thought the event forgotten, but when I was just about within casting distance of my November 4 destination, I rounded a left corner, tipping the minnow bucket that was on the floor in front of the passenger seat of my car. I immediately turned the bucket upright and pulled over to assess the damage. I opened the passenger door and was greeted by flopping crappie minnows trying desperately to stay in the tiny, life-sustaining streams of water that filled the grooves of my floor mat! Within a few minutes, they were back in the bucket, and I had sopped up most of the water with a rag I keep under the seat (apparently, just for this purpose). So, no big deal!
So far in my life, I’ve had my minnow bucket tip over three times. I’ve lost countless lures to snags in a river or lake. I’ve had hooks in my thumb or hand a few times. I’ve lost two anchors to improperly-tied knots. I’ve closed at least one rod tip in the car door. I left the tent poles at home one time, and, oh, that’s enough.
On the other hand though, the positives of my sports and outdoor experiences have far out-numbered the negatives. Whether high school sports, open gym basketball, church-league softball, or fishing, I’ve been fortunate, despite injuries and various setbacks, to always finish wanting more. Like mosquitoes and rain in the Boundary Waters, it’s all part of the overall experience.
I’d like to think that Auggie “learned his lesson” on November 3. That morning, he’d witnessed his mom cast her votes in the election, and, in the afternoon, he was taught that having fun outdoors requires focus, and that it occasionally comes with a cost. That’s a full day for anyone whose nearly six!
LOREN BRABEC is a contributing sports writer for the Isanti-Chisago County Star and author of several Braham sports books.