This morning I got up early to go for a run along the harbor in Scituate so that I would be at the lighthouse at sunrise. As I dragged myself along the bike path in the early morning darkness I came up behind two twenty-something ladies out for a morning power walk. Their heads were silhouetted by the glow of their electronic devices as they simultaneously burned data and talked to each other. Because I run in the Fifty and Over Husky Division and move slow now I was able to hear part of the conversation as I struggled to breathe and pass by them.
“…and I’ll be so pissed if he doesn’t get it for me for Christmas. I deserve it!” said Walker Number One.
Walker Number Two replied, “Oh my God, you so deserve it.”
I passed the walkers and made it to the lighthouse. And I watched the sunrise. I doubt they did…unless it was on YouTube.
The whole Christmas thing is out of control. I was going to rant about it but it’s just not worth it. Christmas should be simple. On the run back from the lighthouse I thought about the simple things I associate with Christmas’s past. A cold beer on the tailgate with my father after splitting wood all afternoon, a cup of coffee while walking my dogs on the beach, watching my daughter when she was little play with the boxes her gifts came in instead of the toy, seeing a Christmas morning sunrise while fishing alone for holdovers…I’ll take any of them over a box of stuff. Memories and time. Gifts we can’t buy but gifts we can make. The ones that last.
It’s been said by many that some of the best days on the water have been those with little or no success. A couple of those days came to mind this morning.
Andrew Allyn is one of the smartest people I know. He has researched marine birds for years in remote places, is an NSF Fellow and is nearing completion of his PhD. He is also one of the coolest people I know - his life experience trumps his academic transcript. I met him through the guys at Cheeky Fishing. We’re all from Maine and grew up hunting, fishing and skiing many of the same places. All jokes aside, put us all together in the same room and after a beer or two the Maine accent comes out and you won’t understand a single thing we say.
In 2012 we were all out on Martha’s Vineyard for the end of the Derby and fished the morning of the awards ceremony. It was raining and the wind was blowing 20 knots plus. We had heard rumors of albies breaking off West Chop so that’s where we headed. It was nearly impossible to cast but we split up and went at it anyway. Andrew and I set our sights on a short stone jetty about half a mile from where the others were and picked our way out to it.
With the wind at our back we found that by stripping out sixty feet of line and making one cast at about a 60 degree angle straight up the wind would catch the line and lay most of it out in front of you. It worked well except when the gusts shifted the direction of the main force of the wind, which was about every ninety seconds. We were laughing like little kids throwing rocks in puddles. We stayed at it and eventually Andrew stuck a little rat schoolie.
I managed one as well but it was so small that pride would not let me take a photo. It was one of the best mornings I have had on the water and it had nothing to do with catching fish - it was being out on the island in miserable conditions with friends and loving every second of it.
Andrew was taking a fly tying class I was teaching that fall at the Bears Den and we made a plan to fish together a few weeks after the Derby trip. We agreed to meet at a late season/winter location that everyone knows about on Cape Cod. That morning was cold and windy but clear as the sun rose, one of those days you can’t help but feel positive about everything. We waded the surf at the outlet as the tide dropped for a couple of hours and just after agreeing to move Andrew hooked up with a surf rat.
We kept fishing for a while longer but that was it. And that was all that was needed. We had coffee back at the vehicles and shot the shit about all things before heading off in our own directions, grateful for one more day on the water and for that one fish.
Life gives us gifts that don’t always come wrapped up or on a specific holiday. Those days were two of them. I hope those reading this find the same in moments with family and friends this Christmas Season.
Merry Christmas to all!
North River, MA
15 December 2015