Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Salmon Fishing in the Pacific NW

Okay, I admit--I'm not much into blogging, but I realize I need to change that soon if I expect you to know me, other through strictly via my books. But today I have a blog written by my son, who is a college Literature prof on the East coast. He's coming home for two days of fall fishing with his dad and brother--the first time they've fished together for  two-and-a-half decades. The layers of insight and sentiment that shape this blog delve deeply, and I'm proud to share it with you. This is just one of the small joys we reap as parents, especially when our kids are no longer kids anymore:

Growing up in western Oregon, an hour from the coast, I grew up salmon fishing with my dad in the fall. As Norman Maclean argued in "A River Runs Through It" about fly-fishing in Montana, for some Northwesterners, salmon fishing is akin to religion, or, at least, a deep spirituality. As each autumn came, and the leaves turned, and the light slanted, and the air grew cool and crisp and smelled of woodsmoke, I looked forward to our trips. As a young child, I hardly slept the night before. Going salmon fishing was like Christmas. Except, Christmas was about toys for me as a kid, and I never really cared whether we got any salmon or not. For me, it was more about waking when it was still dark, eating a hurried breakfast, loading the car, driving across the coastal mountains to the beach in the dark, the fog and mist hanging against the Douglas firs dotting the narrow road all along the way, the seeing of an elk cross the road, stopping at the lone country store--brightly lit in the darkness--to buy sand shrimp as bait, the putting in of the boat in the river while still dark, hearing the other fishermen chat about yesterday's catch, smelling the cattle in the nearby pastures, getting to eat a Snickers bar as a treat for an early morning snack. It was about the smell of my dad's black coffee in his thermos. It was really about family--first, my dad and me; later, my younger brother--and Oregon and adventure. If we caught a salmon or two, or more, that was certainly exciting--really, a thrill. And once, when I was around 9th grade, I caught my biggest salmon ever--about 48 pounds--and it almost pulled me into the river. (The hard part always for me was to accept that the salmon had to die if we were to keep it. ) But, it was always about these other things first. We did this from the time I was a kid until well into my undergraduate years. I haven't been salmon fishing with my dad and brother since 1999, probably. I miss that. So, for fall break, I decided to buy an airline ticket to fly 3,000 miles to Oregon to go salmon fishing with my dad and brother. We'll go two days in a row, and I'm looking forward to it. It will be a very fast trip, as I'll return Sunday morning in time to teach again Monday morning. I think it might be crazy, on one hand, to spend the money and fly this far for fishing. But, this has always meant something to me. Maybe it is religion or spirituality. So, it's worth it. See you soon, Mom, Dad, and Nate.