Laughing through the changes and accepting what life has for me after retirement. My elevator might be going down, but I plan to get off on every floor, even if it's just for plumbing supplies.
Friday, May 13, 2011
My Retirement - A River Runs Through It
I used to Fly Fish and did OK
My mid-life crisis as I remember it.
As I reached mid-life, I felt a need to escape the rat race that I thought was taking over every waking moment of my life. A hobby that would take me out of my element and relieve stress was what I needed. My oldest two children were in college or finished and about to start their own lives but I was still raising two teenagers. My days were about working, continuing my education and being responsible for the happiness and well-being of everyone in my life, whether they wanted it or not. I felt I was running as fast as I could but was never catching up. I needed to find a place for myself, a place where I could find me (such a 90's thing). So what did the woman who was raised in Bronx, NY do, I took up fly fishing. I had read a book, A River Runs Through It, and also saw the movie and thought, yep, that's for me. I figured there would be no Brad Pitt character in my adventure, but the beauty of the sport and the artistry of the reel and line captured my imagination. I went out and got all the equipment, which included a medium-priced rod and reel, waders, obligatory vest and tackle and I was all set to start on this new path to relaxation. Fly fishing does not involve any slimy bait but rather crafted flies that are to resemble some kind of bug. No muss, no fuss. With the help of a manual, I practiced and practiced throwing out the line in my backyard until I was convinced that I had this baby down really well. I also took a trip to Vermont to attend a beginner's fly fishing school. I now was ready to set off to find a watering hole and seize the day. I drove around to the local creek beds until I found this lovely spot that was designated for "fly fishing only". It was by this old covered bridge and was like a scene out of a movie - just what I was looking for. Here I fished for about six years, going three to four days a week after work and sometimes on the weekends. In all those years, I might have caught maybe twenty fish, but I could throw a nice line that would twirl and twirl until it would lay softly on the water. That was quite a feat for me as I am sports handicapped. I always looked forward to going to "my place" to enjoy not only the fishing, but also the magnificent landscape with all its birds and wildflowers. It was my little heaven. I have such good memories of those days, of the serenity, of the peace and just having a place for myself to think and dream.
When we moved to our new home about nine years ago, we actually were closer to my fishing hole, but there was so much to do around the house and my gardens became my new passion. I did go fishing a few times when my son would invite me and hubby to accompany him on the first day of trout season at a stream near his home. The first year I caught four or five fish, but also caught my waders on the thorns in the weeds surrounding the creek. There were quite a few rips and was lucky that the water was slow and shallow and did not seep in and fill up my pants. It is hard to walk with a river in your britches. I also took a lot of flack from the men-folk because I would scream with glee when a fish caught my line. The second year we went, (with my waders glued up), it was a cold morning and it had rained quite a bit the day before. You could see your breath in the air and the water was murky and running really fast. Hubby, son and friend all fished with spinning reels so I walked a little downstream to a fly fishing area. Because of the weather, I was wearing four layers of clothing, and was feeling quite comfortable. Unfortunately, the rocks underneath were very slimy and slippery and as I said, the water was running fast. We had gotten there early and were standing quietly in the water for at least fifteen minutes waiting for the 7 am start. It was not crowded, as a matter of fact, there was only the four of us that I could see in our area. One minute before kick-off time, I moved a little and slipped on some rocks and into the water I went. I could not get my footing and with all the clothing I had on and the wader filling up, I felt the rapid waters take me. I was not going to let go of my new rod and fought to get up. I was able to grab hold of some tree branches and saved myself from drowning and ruining the whole day for everyone. My fishing mates, being further upstream, did not notice any of this action or hear the loud splash and went about their casting. Our of breath and soaked to the skin, I needed some help but nobody heard me. After a few minutes, my son's friend noticed me clinging to a side of a tree and calmly said "Your mother fell in". They all came to my rescue and got me out of the water. Andy gave me his jacket and made sure I was OK and asked what I wanted to do. I did not want to wreck their day of fishing and said I would be fine and they could continue fishing, but the chattering of my teeth and the look of coming close to death on my face told them it was time to leave. Besides, the splash I made in the water put an end to any fish biting for at least a few hours. My son never asked me to go with him again because possibly the thought of his mother floating downstream was not a good image he wanted in his head.
Last month I went around taking pictures of the four covered bridges in our area and walked close to the place that I had spent so many hours standing and throwing my line out. Nothing had changed, there were very few people around and the memories came flooding back. I don't think I could make it up and down the banks like I used to, I probably cannot throw my line like before, and I don't think I have the patience or attention span to keep it up for more than 15 minutes now, but there is that serenity that I still search for, the wildflowers and the large birds that I loved to watch and I think, maybe, I should try again.