The Bamboo Fishing Pole

canepolesI grew up with Zebco 202’s and caught quite a few bluegill, shiner, and catfish with Billy and Eddie in the pond next door. I even snagged a gator once but that was nothing compared to the nasty snapping turtle that tried to take his wrath out on my fingers. But I always preferred my bamboo fishing pole with the line tied to the tip, and a bobber. This may sound a little crazy but I really was a kid in cutoff bluejeans and straw hat chewing a blade of grass while the bamboo pole sat between my knees and the red and white bobber floated in the pond. Yep, and I even leaned back against a tree.

That bamboo pole taught me a lot about life. I learned patience sitting for hours between nibbles and bites. I learned to resist the urge to yank the pole up until I felt the living, wriggling fish through the fishing line and the pole and into my fingers. I learned to love the explosive feeling of success when the fish flew out of the water at the end of the hook and I swung it into my hand. I learned the love of nature when I removed the hook and held the fish underwater for a few seconds before releasing it. That living body in my hand squirming to break free told me a lot about what it meant to live free. Everything yearns for freedom. That pond was a little nation of freedom.

I recall the feeling of achievement when I took home first prize for the biggest fish at the fishing derby on the Hillsborough River in Tampa. I recall my disappointment when I didn’t place at all one year but dad told me there’d be a next time. We had sore losers in those days but they were pretty rare. Besides, losing was soon forgotten as we set our sights on the next Big Thing.

I missed out on the MVP one year in Little League Baseball, but took home the consolation prize: the Good Sportsmanship Award. I really wanted that MVP trophy. I remember all us boys on the pitcher’s mound sitting in a circle around our coach, Mr. Hallmark, as he explained his decision and then announced the MVP. I don’t remember his name, but the kid deserved it and I was happy for him. Disappointed, but happy. Dad came to nearly all my games and kept the sportsmanship trophy for decades on the bookshelf in the living room. I think he was proud that I took losing on the chin and kept on trying. He knew I’d succeed.

I used to wonder about my dad when we fished together. Who taught him all the things he taught me? I guess maybe his dad taught him. I guess maybe his dad taught him to love the simple things in life too; not much comes simpler than a bamboo fishing pole, a bobber, and a blade of grass between the teeth.

Dad was my hero, and I guess I’m a lot like him.


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10 thoughts on “The Bamboo Fishing Pole

  1. What a wonderful Norman Rockwell-like picture you’ve painted, evoking in me my own quiet fishing memories from the lawn chair on the pond bank with my father and sister; yes, my dad taught us, girls, how to fish. I learned all those same lessons you so beautifully recall. My story is bittersweet though. I retained that craving for only the simple things, while my dad went on to be driven by money and status, like my son. Many things, like fishing, are beneath my father now. Not too long ago, he sat out of a game of bocce ball at a gathering at his oldest friend’s house, looking so out of place and disinterested after we finished his photos showing off his property. His transformation saddens me. He gave me those experiences when I was young though. I do miss those times, when family friends would get together and the adults would talk and play cards all night while the kids played together in old-fashioned ways before electronics.

    Your memories penned so lovely about your involvement in a classic American past time reminds me of my late father-in-law. He was a great man and has a memorial brick at Wrigley Field; his whole tree are die-hard baseball fans. My ex-husband played Little League and was about to become career-great when another darker path took him instead. I’ve never been a sports fan as a spectator, but I’ve always liked playing anything. And I’ve always had a competitive nature. I miss the days when we weren’t all winners.

    My latest routine has been “‘waking up to Will.” I so enjoy being so gently taken away in the ebb and flow of your words. This is the type of writing I enjoy doing as well. I could easily develop my responses to your writing into my own pieces, but that seems like cheating. (: Your words remind me of the beautiful things I have; I have to excavate them from the layers of rubble that fell on top, but they’re still in there. Your words are very timely. I’m grateful to be personally impacted by you using your gifts. I recently toyed with the idea of laying down my pen I only so recently just picked up again. Your words are whispers from the inkwell that cause me to peek in.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I may frame this 🙂 this is why writers write – the hope that someone connects with their thoughts and words and is emotionally moved in some way. These are the kindest words anyone has gone to lengths to express – Thank you.
      I’ve noticed similarities in our writing and how we express our thoughts. It’s funny how we fall into a certain style without really trying. It’s just the way we express our thoughts. I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I think I’m in good company.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m going to follow you now on my other profile; I deleted but recently restarted my second blog. (Keep my identities safe…) My oldest post on that site is how we are most similar, I think. I’ve been in a prose rut: you’ve inspired me to start the creative nonfiction book I’ve been meaning to in that style.

        Liked by 1 person

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