Friday, July 31, 2015

{A Time to Laugh} The Stream Fishing Dictionary

For those not familiar with the art of stream fishing, today's post takes an unexpected turn in a serious effort to educate the public about the necessary skill involved in this timeless sport.  And, as my brother the Scout has pointed out, Jesus selected many disciples from among the anglers, and that represents something important.  Well...actually my research has yet to elevate that connection properly, but I do know that though we have access to Biblical instruction on becoming fishers of men, it is less well known how to become successful fishers of fishes!

Inspired by the work of Patrick Mcmanus, here is a humorous glossary of fishing terms as defined and exaggerated by fond memories collected over years of family trips.


Bug Spray:  A mythological substance provided to Wal-Mart out of an unmarked van at the Canadian border claiming to keep away all members of the mosquito family, but which in fact does nothing of the sort and is actually a spray bottle filled with "snake oil."

Bar Soap:  Slick lumps cleverly disguised as river rocks lying in wait for your inevitable boot in order to ceremoniously dump you in the drink.  This phenomenon is referred to as the stream sit by fishermen in which they who have fallen prey to the ploy of the bar soap attempt to convince their buddies that they, "meant to do that."

First Water:  The first fisherman on the river to perform the stream sit or its more flamboyant relative the cold water cannonball, which typically involves the whole body and is often accompanied by the loss of at least one bag of trout hooks or a half dozen Slim Jims (whichever is more important to the fisherman at the time of water entry).
*Note:  you will never be wearing quick-dry fishing gear at this time

Willows:  A race of anthropomorphic trees who have dedicated their existence to harassing fishermen, snagging their spinners, and denying them access to the best trout pools.

Crunch:  A generic term used to describe any manner of food sustenance while fishing.  This may include smashed granola bars or apples.  Additionally, it is the sound your only pair of sunglasses makes when you sit on them.

Baby Backpack:  A child carrying device exhibited as evidence to prove that no one is too little to learn how to fish.  This is often loudly disputed by said child precisely at the moment the diaper bag is dropped and begins to float downstream.

Game Warden:  An elusive creature who only appears on the one day you forgot your permit in the pickup and also during the moment when you accidentally gut-hook a trout in the "catch and release only" portion of the river.

The Perfect Cast:  A brief glimmer of triumph , skill, and luck which thus ensures that the spinner will not turn properly and therefore attract not a single fish.

One More Pool:  A lie the fisherman repeats to himself that precedes the end of fishing for the day.  This has been shown to extend stream time by up to an hour much to the dismay of the fisherman's buddies, who have already assembled at the agreed upon rendezvous point.  When pressed for an explanation, the fisherman will often resort to a number of excuses and diversion techniques stored in his arsenal including, but not limited to:  "my line got tangled," "I didn't know how late it was," and "lo siento, no hablo ingles."  

Trout Kwon Do:  A rare martial arts discipline invented by Bruce Lee and performed solely by cranky rainbow trout once they are reeled in and hook extraction has begun.  Experts have likened the experience to trying to recapture a soapy toddler who has escaped the bathtub while he repeatedly smacks you with a fly swatter.

Zebconites:  A tribe of nomads generally avoided by members of the decidedly snobby Stream Fishing Purists and so named because of their devotion to closed-reel Zebco fishing rods.  Their camps are located near the riverbank and are marked by tents, loud music, and are guarded by yapping toy poodles.  They are led by a high priest who oversees the site while sitting in a folding chair and wearing a wife beater.

Cell Phone Protector:  The plastic Ziploc bag you forgot to bring in order to keep your fishing license and cell phone dry, in which case you say your prayers as you hurriedly snap iphone shots of your catch (to prove to your buddies that you weren't fibbing) while desperately hoping not to baptize your phone in the stream.

Resurrection:  The glorious moment when your hand emerges half frozen from the water having successfully retrieved whatever item you dropped.
*Note:  Cell phones may be resurrected but unfortunately never revived.

Fly Fishing:  An art form which involves huge graceful casts of the line that swoop back and forth portraying the fisherman as a kind of trout stream Oprah who knows exactly what he is doing and who graces onlookers with both amusing and pensive expressions.
*Note: no actual success is needed in order for the illusion to become complete.  A simple mastery of the motions will suffice in order to convince an audience that you are indeed Kenobi reincarnated wielding "an elegant weapon from a more civilized time," and not performing an exorcism with your rod.

Exorcism:  What you appear to be doing as you wield your pole like a Scottish claymore and attempt to huck your lure out into the deep water with a two-fisted fling and a breathless grunt all the while cursing your old fishing line.   

Snag: Any and all forms of tangled line or trapped lures that take place during or after the casting process.  Excessive snagging has been linked to hikes in blood pressure often leading to anger which later dwindles into a fuming sulk.  It can be somewhat effectively treated by a bag of Haribo gummy bears.

Primogeniture:  The point at which the fisherman's son takes his father's place as king.  In this his powers are passed on to his firstborn son, who then proceeds to outfish his father on all future fishing expeditions.  This causes the fisherman to become at once proud and outraged.  

Duck And Cover:  What you do when a snagged lure comes unexpectedly free and becomes a tri-barbed boomerang rocketing back towards your face.  This often results in the embarrassment of the hindquarter hook.  

Hindquarter Hook:  When a rogue lure flies through the air and buries itself in one's unprotected caboose.  The experienced fisherman will be able to casually extricate the hooks without incurring the notice and subsequent laughter of his buddies.

Screech:  What comes out of a fisherwoman's mouth when she is "positive she saw a snake" in the grass, which leads her to briefly leap onto a safety perch.  

Safety Perch:  The river rock that the fisherwoman thinks will keep her safe until her fishing partner informs her that snakes can swim.

Campfire Stories:  Tales told around the fire at the end of the day, usually under the influence of s'mores.  They fall into the categories ghost and benign.  Benign stories usually elicit harmless laughter from fishing buddies, while ghost stories, once heard, embed themselves in the listener's subconscious only to return to memory when one is hiking back to the campsite alone--in the dark.  If the situation is further complicated by eery elk bugles or rumbling thunder, it is considered acceptable though not desirable to wet ones pants and always leads to some form of hightailing.  

Hightailing:  What you do when you're late to the rendezvous point and your mom has threatened to take the pickup and leave you stranded if you don't arrive on time.  Also usable to describe any and all forms of running, especially if fleeing the vicinity of dog prints imagined to be that of a cougar's.

Undie Creep:   The eternal torture that Hades would have condemned Sisyphus to perform had he known anything about stream fishing.  It involves the slow and tortuous progress of icy river water from the hem of your jeans up to your waistline while you slog upstream against the might of the current.  


I hope you have enjoyed this detour. Laughter is the best medicine so excuse me while I short-sheet the Scout's sleeping bag.  Impossible, you say?  Well a sister never reveals her secrets.  If anyone asks, the baby did it.

Images via:,,,,

All work subject copyright by the author.  Use by permission only.  2015.  

Friday, July 3, 2015

To: Morrow From: Yesterday

Remember mailboxes, those treasure chests of hope topped by a bright red flag?  Remember what it was like to receive a letter, to feel bare feet going slap slap on the sidewalk, as the little postal truck trundled to a stop in front of your house?  A hand offered you a stack of envelopes for your mom—and a smile.  

I love letters.  I love words.  And I love to think about Time, in all its great faceted mystery.  And as I was sitting and wandering, somewhere between memory lane and the distant future, I tumbled one word over and over again in my mind, rolling it until I’d felt all the edges and really measured the weight of it.    


So much could be said about this word.  But often I simply feel as though struggles or doubts in my life might have been avoided had I only remembered.  And in the Bible I found a similar theme repeated.  God’s people are continually exhorted to remember his goodness, remember his promises, remember their mistakes, remember his provision, remember his word, and ultimately to remember Him.  Stones were set up as memorials so that generations to come might not forget, that they might know what had passed and so learn from it.  

But Israel’s mistakes shed their ugly skins only to be reborn in own time.  We too are creatures of spiritual amnesia.  We forget the Lord and in doing so we doubt his love, his power, his grace, his sovereignty, and we forget what we have been rescued from.  

Time is a strange and perilous power, a beast bridled by the hand of God alone.  And among its untamed magics are the veils of distortion and the enchantment of the present.
As Time stretches our memories it often alters our perception of the events that occurred.  Whether difficult times are remembered as easy or facts are repeated falsely, the spell of the now imposes our own current state of mind upon the past and often veils the truth.  If not carefully monitored, this spell becomes a curse.  It dooms events and mistakes to horribly reincarnate, and it can keep us from truly bearing with one another as disciples.  

This particular manifestation of distortion seems to take effect as we age.  Our patience might run thin with children because we’ve forgotten what it meant to be a child.  We may flippantly hand out “fix-it” scriptures on joy, because we’ve forgotten what it felt like to suffer.  We may judge new parents who are struggling when we forget what it was like to be young, to be afraid.

I don’t see the mailman anymore, and we don’t have a traditional mailbox.  The Captain and I live out in the boonies where the hope of decent cell phone reception has dwindled to a mere myth.  But I wonder what our former postman would say if I could jump back in Time just for one day, pierce the veil and make my body as well as my mind truly remember.  Would he notice anything strange if I handed him a neat stack of letters addressed simply:

To:  Morrow
From:  Yesterday

Hindsight is perfect, as they say, and there is probably no one who does not harbor an ugly memory or a hasty word that they wish they might undo or take back.  But what I often wish, is that I could remember the past more perfectly, in order to better understand the present.  Without excessively dwelling on the years behind me I want to compose letters to my future self, memorials of paper rather than stone standing beside a Jordan flowing with ink instead of water, reminding me not to forget.  

Dear Grown Up,
Remember dreams?  Remember stories?  Remember fun?  Age and wisdom will stretch your sight until your gaze is no longer that of a child’s.  You cannot stay here forever, but do not forget this time!  Tuck away this piece of your soul--brave-heart, childlike, forever young.  Remember me when you play with children, when you read to them, when you construct cardboard castles on grass stained knees.  Until the day your broken body is laid in the ground, remember this gift of time and joy.  

Dear Adult,
There is much you’d rather forget about these moments.  Confusion, fear, loneliness, emotion.  A girl’s heart and body stretching painfully to fill a new skin, the frame of a woman.  Grace and wisdom were not often your teenage gifts, but do not lose this feeling even so.  Fill a bottle with a little angst and let the rest go, so that you do not forget what if felt like to grow, or how very  very much you needed Him and so need Him still.

Dear Graduate,
Your college years were a battle, daily skirmishes in enemy occupied territory, where your only thought was of escape, to leave the war torn fields behind you.  From the lies of the evil one to the darkness of your own wayward soul, this time drew blood and tested you.  But in your weakness, your God was greater, and in Him you rose in victory.  Bear your scars in memorial, and have compassion on those still down in the trenches.  Many are fighting hard battles, even if you do not see. 

Dear Wife,
Marriage is hard, as well you know.  For love must be remade each day.   It is renewed and kneaded by the continual action of sacrifice, by the pruning the growing and the blooming.  But in your wisdom do not sap the joy from others who have not yet climbed to your vantage point.  Time has shown you trial, but it has not stolen the truth from your heart.  The cynic of age has only buried it under a stack of struggles.  Remember hand holding?  Remember love notes?  Remember innocent smiles?  Remember how it felt to be a young bride. Treasure those moments of sunshine, and temper your gift of age and wisdom with love. They are the Lord’s, and though marriage is not built upon feeling alone, you only tear down when you snuff out the joy of others with your dose of discouragement. 

Dear Mother,
Remember tiny fingers and little toes?  Remember that hand crafted face blooming for the first time framed by baby-fine hair?  You fought, trembled, and cried to bring that precious one into this world, and never before had you known such fierce love and also tremendous fear.  Remember when all was fresh and new, when danger lurked behind every unknown?  Do not forget, for if you do, you will not know how to comfort young moms, how to catch their tears, hold their crying little ones, and embrace them with simple words of love and understanding.  

Remember too how that precious one snuggled into your chest, how he grasped tiny fistfuls of your shirt as he drifted off to sleep, secure in your love.  Your heart broke in that moment, as joy came down and met you, new mom, wakeful at midnight and wondering if you were the only creature not asleep.   Love whispered your name as you mouthed his.  Only for a moment is he yours to hold.  Treasure it, cast it in gold, press it in a beloved book.  Give thanks for each new day and remember.  
If wisdom could transcend Time’s boundary in such a way, I would be tempted to write a few notes to my future self, to seal thoughts in envelopes, trap feelings in the paper, and send them stamped with love to the future me.  For remembering is an action of memory, the will to look back over Time’s shoulder and choose to see truth and the will of God arching over all. Know that the one whom Time cannot touch is on the throne, and hide his word in your heart.  Do not leave behind or abandon the lessons of the past.  Hold tightly to memories of joy, and carry all with you into every tomorrow. 


All work subject to copyright by the author.  Use by permission only.  2015.  
Images via:,,,,,