Monday, April 2, 2007

Oldish man and the Provo River

Ryan has taken up fly fishing. He first got the buzz last summer when a friend who shall remain nameless (Kent) took him out and showed him the glory of standing in freezing cold water and trying to trick fish into eating a fake bug you painstakingly made out of old dryer lint and cat fur. Then for several months I heard nothing except how cool fly fishing is and how Ryan would consider a fly rod a good enough present for his birthday and Christmas combined. I bought him a rod in September -- since I start my Christmas shopping freakishly early, and Ryan found out about it that afternoon -- because I took a three year old along to help me pick it out. I think Luke figured that if Ryan knew about it they could go fishing that afternoon. He was wrong.

As he counted down the days to Christmas Ryan began practicing tying knots. I figured that since he had been tying his shoes for years this wouldn't be a big deal. Oh, was I mistaken. These are special knots that you have to be able to tie one handed while standing in the middle of a river holding your pole between your teeth, blindfolded, while the fish spit water at you and laugh. Or something like that. Ryan took to carrying a spool of fishing line with him everywhere. I began thinking I was living with Rainman.

Finally, the glorious day came when I gave him the fishing pole. Tying knots gave way to casting practice on
the back deck. And then the glorious day came went he finally went fishing -- and discovered he needed more stuff. Waders, a vest, special shoes -- I had no idea a new outfit was required to hang out with fish. I thought a pole and a funny hat and he would be ready to go. Of course, I also think socks are an unnecessary evil that are only tolerable if printed with monkeys.

Yesterday was Ryan's first fully outfitted day on the river -- and he invited me and Sally to go along. We packed up the car with snacks and sweaters, I brought my book, and we headed into the great outdoors. It was an absolutely stunning day. Not too warm, not too cool, a little overcast. Ryan said it was perfect conditions for fishing. I was just glad I didn't have to wear sunscreen.

The perfect day

It took Ryan, I kid you not, 30 minutes to get into his fishing gear. I had no idea it was so involved. While he was dressing Sally and I ran up and down the road, playing "Hey Cow." For those of you unfamiliar with the game you yell "hey cow" at cows until you get one to look. It's very complicated. I was beating Sally by a landslide until she caught on and started barking at them -- which made them look and run away. There was no way I could top that so we headed back to the car to find our fisherman.

Ryan gears up

Ryan was finally dressed -- so we headed to the river -- which involved breaking the law. We had to climb two fences, both posted with large "no river access" signs. Now, Ryan grew up as a hoodlum, jumping bikes off roofs and engaging in late night rotten fruit fights behind supermarkets -- but I was raised as a law abiding citizen. I expected at any moment Park Rangers would jump out of the trees and haul us off to trespassers jail. And then I would end up someone's bitch. My fears were put to rest though when we approached the river -- and there was absolutely no one there.

It was stunning.

All you could hear was the water and the wind. I am not a very poetic person, and I almost started spouting sonnets. Sally was equally impressed. Not with the scene, but with all the sticks that hadn't been chewed. Ryan waded out into the river and I settled down on the bank with my book. And then I had to pee.

Outdoor urination is one of the things I hate most about camping. There is no way to do it gracefully and cleanly. And I am all about being clean and graceful. At best you end up slightly damp and at worst you end up with pee covered shoes. However, since I didn't really have a choice I hunkered down in the bushes. At least my shoes stayed dry. Sally thought it was the coolest thing ever, like I was finally seeing the light.

While my squatting pleased Sally -- Ryan's fishing did not. You see, our dog hates water. She does not like baths, she does not like sprinklers and she especially does not like rivers. As Ryan stood in the middle of the river she looked at him with great consternation and concern. Did he know what he was doing? Twice she started into the river to pull him to safety -- but once all four feet were in the water she was just too overwhelmed. She decided to do the next best thing -- which was running up and down the riverbank barking. Finally though she decided it was Ryan's funeral and returned to her collecting of every stick in the area.

Very upset

For two hours I sat on the bank, eating cheese, reading a book, drinking wine. It was absolutely beautiful. Even more beautiful was watching Ryan. He had this weird zen-like quality that hyper manic people like me can hardly imagine, much less try to attain. Watching him walk the river, casting into holes where fish might be hiding reminded me of why I love him. He has a patience and grace that floors me and is just as at home in the middle of the river as he is in the classroom or on the beach. I decided then and there I was going fishing with him every chance I could get.

Next time though I'm bringing a chair. The rocks on the bank hurt my butt.


cate said...

You will go with him as long as you can take a bottle of wine. Too bad we can't find champange in cans here. That would be perfect for fishing.

Amanda said...

Luke was really sad when he learned that you were not fishing in your backyard. He was convinced that it was finally his time to get that damn frog.

By the way, the more I read about her, the more I love Sally.