It is a sunny morning, this final day of March.
The air is full.
A tumult of chirps and whistles and individual melodies form a concerto.
Birds are celebrating the receding of snow.
The return of the sun.
The reawakening of their beloved woods.
Nature did not renege on her perpetual promise of spring.
We view time as a constant.
The tide pulls with such strength it actually slows Earth’s revolution;
It steals time from the firmament, lengthening our days.
The moon, which beckons the sea, is repelled by its tide.
Love unrequited, it observes from a distance, knowing more than we’ll ever fathom
How nature is fickle and time may be as fluid as the ocean.
The storm curls up the Inlet in a sneer,
An untamable cur that bites at my face and snaps at my clothes.
But behind the snarl, there is beauty.
It’s a tough love.
Isn’t it always?
In navigational terms, they say your outstretched fist is equivalent to approximately 10 degrees. I wonder how many fists it will take to change the course of this season.
We fight the Inlet tide, using cutlines so we don’t have to pick up at slack water. We hope the upcoming flood rewards us.
We fight the storms, launching our skiffs through angry breakers, seeking a harvest amongst the peaks and troughs. We hope the winds reward us.
We fight ourselves, ignoring bumps and bruises, sore muscles and smashed fingers. We hope our stubbornness will be rewarded.
We fight for our existence. The highly polar and politicized fish wars endanger us as many call for our demise. We hope our long history in the face of sustained runs will be rewarded.
I’m often asked why I keep fishing. Why fight each season? I’m not sure how to answer someone who doesn’t already understand. It’s like describing something using the wrong half of a foreign language dictionary. All I know is how adrift I would feel without fishing.
They say your heart is approximately the size of your fist. That seems fitting, for it is with your heart you battle your way in this world.
And so I continue to chart my course. Tide after tide. Season after season. Fist after fist. Hoping my heart stops before the fishing does.
I feel suffocated. By air. As I jump into the void that is anything but, the wind blasts my body. It fills my nose and mouth making it a minor struggle to breathe. I crane my head back. It helps but little. Breathing has switched from a passive to an active process and I find myself concentrating to fill my lungs. I have to breathe with purpose.
As I fall, the chute catches and the world goes from a rushing tumult to silence. Suddenly I can inhale with ease and I look down at the splendid earth and laugh. It is the only appropriate response.
People ask why I wanted to go skydiving. I have no good answer. It’s difficult to describe the experience; the noise and the quiet, the rushing wind and the stillness. So many emotions and sensations wrapped up in a single event. But now I realize, maybe having to breathe with purpose is a lesson for more than just the freefall. Maybe it’s the takeaway lesson for life.