Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Went to school and worship over the weekend...

...at one venue - a hybrid of sorts - only this place didn't have million dollar churches, parking lots, desks or chalkboards.

Given our new location, we can throw a bunch of stuff in the little Saturn and sprint over to a local state park with relative ease. We did that on Sunday. Despite being one of (if not the) most popular park in MN, it was pretty much dead, being an off night… so we got our choice of sites. We ended up in close earshot of the river, but also near the restroom (practical considerations are important when kids are along). Perfect really. Weather was perfect too.

We arrived just in time to capture our dinner. We walked ~3 minutes through flood-ravaged forest and found a changed stream channel… but water that still held plenty of fish. We took a page from the Brian Stewart book of “prospecting” with a dry fly and started winging an elk hair caddis around. Withing 15 minutes we had three fish to hand, all of which were played by JD. To date, he has caught a number of fish, and eaten a few… but he had not witnessed a stream-side “capture” and evisceration of a trout. Seeing a fish be “cut” hurt the kid to the point of pretty intense crying. Not because he was squeamish about it… but because he couldn’t bear to see a fish that he wanted to hold and study be injured I think. He cried and wailed and kept asking me “why did you cut him, Daddy?” That hit me like a brick and we proceeded to talk through the whole bit. We talk about food often – where it comes from, why we eat, etc., but there are still some gaps in his understanding (he’s not yet four years old). Hell, there are gaps in my understanding and I'd venture to say some BIG gaps in overall societal understanding. From that point on, I asked him about every fish – do you want to keep it, or let it swim home? What he wanted to do was hold each one and carry it around, but not cut it. We ended up keeping this rainbow anyway, because JD, having played and landed it, held it too long and dropped it on rocks a few times… it was in rough shape so we ate it. He dealt with the second killing… same shock and worry but toned down a little. We talked on this into the night – while we were eating, and when we were getting ready for bed. He gained some clarity I think… and I went away with a valuable reminder: it’s no small thing to take life. Kids are innocent and they are good indicators I think… they have a clean mental/emotional slate in many respects and their reactions are telling. It’s right and good to eat what the river can offer up, but it’s no small thing and the fish deserve respect and the act of killing should come with proper thought.


All said we caught ~10 trout – all on dries – all great takes. I missed maybe ~5 more. EHC fooled seven of them I think. Craneflies were coming off, and I was able to get two more on this hairwing imitation that was close but not right on. I read some correspondence from TD (local TU guy who has offered up advice regularly) and recalled his note that craneflies do not dead drift – they skitter across the water laying eggs. I was dead drifting that hairwing and now that I think of it, the two fish I got on it hit it right away as it was landing… Got one more on an emerger pattern. It was absolutely excellent to get these fish on dries. Great feeling. I didn’t want to “push” fishing on this little trip, but because we were five minutes from some easy water, it worked out fine – we walked down to the river a few times and on two occasions we fished until JD got bored or asked to leave (the second time I hung on just a while beyond his interest level because I was trying to figure out a dry fly puzzle – never did get it though).

The other highlight at the river was turning over rocks and photographing bugs. We managed to find plecopteran, ephemeropteran and tricopteran representatives.





He loved the tent, and loved the food. Great time. The weather was near-perfect. I went to bed when he went to bed… like nymphs, split shot and indicators – alcohol was not part of the bit and I didn’t stay up late drinking beer at the fire (sounds pretty good but wasn’t a good fit on this trip). I did get up at 3 AM though because I’m not used to going to bed that early… laid around until 5 AM when I got up and made a morning fire and some cowboy coffee.


15 Comments:

Blogger john montana said...

Excellent...so many good things happening right now, and more to come.

11:55 AM  
Blogger amanda & co. said...

Love that picture of James, and great bug pictures too.
Sitting here reading about James & the fish lesson reminds me of an emotional topic that came up here on Sunday as I was weeding some plant beds with Johnathan by my side... We were talking about all the new growth of the plants sprouting up, budding out, etc... One particular plant we were working around (our False Blue Indigo) is called the "Dammit Plant." All the family members on my side of the family have one planted at their homes in memory of the great dog Dammit, and I ended up explaining that to Johanthan, not realizing where it would lead. Instantly he became pretty emotional and a little panicky... I explained that Dammit lived a good long life...
He fought back a tear pleading that he doesn't want our dog to get old, and kept asking "But is he? Is he going to?"
You can't lie to the kids, but the truth is tough to have to break to them sometimes. These lessons are challenging for Mom's & Dad's, too. I wasn't prepared to have that conversation with Johnathan, but tried to explain the best I could that our dog is a puppy and we're going to take good care of him so he'll be around a long long long time with us, but that all things grow older with time. A hug helped us both.
Well said about that childhood innocence.
Glad you guys had a good weekend. Sounds like the perfect setting for the lesson you covered.

11:58 AM  
Blogger Jean-Paul Lipton said...

I love those nymph photos.

Thanks for sharing the candid moment with your son discussing the cycle of life. I'm finding that the older I get, the less interested I am in killing things. I understand that we all need to eat, but I'm really struggling lately with the fact that there are some people out there who kill for the enjoyment of it and call it "sport". I have a hard time stomaching that. Perhaps it's a double standard, but in this world of over-harvest, overconsumption and disposability, I'm trying to adopt the mentality of waste not want not. I need to realize that harvesting fish and game can be okay, especially if it leads us toward self-sustainability. However, this is not often the case.

9:35 PM  
Blogger Michael Thompson said...

Really nics pics!
brings back memories of my first fish, I caught it in the winter thru the ice when I was around four and dug a hole in the snow and buried it there so it could sleep and then it could swim away in the spring time...ooops!

9:19 AM  
Anonymous dharma bum said...

Awesome. Thanks.

12:19 PM  
Blogger Joe Watkins said...

Great trip, eh. So many times do we capture the peanut butter pasted to the sides of the mouth in photos. J and I look forward to getting back there with you two.

Got a little Gollum there banging fish on the rocks? "So juicy sweet!"

7:50 AM  
Blogger Wendy Berrell said...

Good comments and thoughts here - thanks.

I can picture Johnathan becoming frantic as he thought of the new puppy growing old and dying.

When JD saw that first fish "be cut" his eyes literally grew wide... Funny because one uses the term "wide-eyed" all the time, but I can't recall any other instance in which I saw someone's eyes grow like that... that image is stuck with me now. The wide-eyed transitioned to intense crying.

Hopefully we can instill in these kids that death is part of life, and that when it comes in due time and when the preceding life has been good and when the act of killing is concise and direct and the reason for killing is just... then it's okay.

That means trying to explain to a 3 year old kid that SOME death is good and necessary. Tough bill there.

Mainly I don't want the kid running around killing things because he thinks it's fun or "not a big deal" (or like Anne Coulter would say: we have dominion over all, so come on Republicans, let's rape and pillage the shit out of the world [I actually read that quote])... but on the other hand I don't want him to break down emotionally every time he takes part in dealing a killing blow or witnesses a death.

12:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what's the "smore" concotion?

-josh

7:43 PM  
Blogger vanckirby said...

awesome pics!

8:25 AM  
Blogger Wendy Berrell said...

It's a s'more pancake of sorts. Homemade buckwheat pancake with chocolate and marshmallow bits thrown in... Pretty exciting for a 3.66 year old.

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