We corrected the pilot when he announced our final destination as “Providence” over the intercom. “Warwick!” we interjected loudly. After 6 long days in Texas, we were on our way home.
Traveling to Texas is always hard for me. It is a place fraught with memories, more often bad ones. I’ve often described it as a “desolate wasteland”, a large open field of yellow grass dotted with mesquite trees. In the center of this field is a Super Walmart. Of course, this is an overexageration. This image that I can so easily conjure up is actually a representation of how I perceived my life was when I lived there. A lot has changed since I moved to Rhode Island and maybe that is why in spite of a funeral, this trip wasn’t so bad. I have a daughter, I’ve purchased a home, I’ve changed jobs a gillion times and of course, how can I not mention that I have become someone who fishes. It may seem like fishing is out of place in that list of important milestones, but let me tell you, it is not. Fishing is an enormous part of my life and has shaped the way in which I view the world.
While on our trip, we visited one of our favorite places in Dallas, a place called “Half Price Books”. I spent many a contemplative hour sitting in that place when I lived there. The smell of books filled me with wanderlust and it was after one of these visits that I decided it was time for us to move to Rhode Island. While perusing the sports section, I happened across a used copy of Izaak Walton’s “The Compleat Angler”. This book was first published in 1653 and has been elevated to the level of scripture by some. The introduction says the book is “…not about how to fish but how to be.” As I navigated from Dallas to Oklahoma, I couldn’t help but notice all the cow ponds and streams that dotted the map. It was in a cow pond like those that I got my first taste of fishing. I don’t know who bought me my first fishing rod, some sort of Zebco spincaster, but I had one. I believe it was my uncle who rigged up my rod for the first time with what I now know as a drop shotting set up. Grasshoppers where everywhere you stepped in that cow pasture making them the bait of choice. There where crappie in that pond, I recall their paper thin lips being badly damaged by the blunt hook I never changed. I remember staring at a wall of shiny lures at Walmart, aching to have them, but I don’t recall ever asking my mother for one, who knows why. Time passed, life happened and I can’t remember what became of fishing. It seems like it just evaporated from my mind. Looking back now, I wish I had fished more, escaped from life more often into the magic of fishing. Everywhere I looked, from the Red River that borders Texas and Oklahoma, to the most urban areas of Dallas, I found water. Perhaps the void I felt when I lived there would have been minimized if I had only gone fishing. Izaak Walton says, “Rivers and the inhabitants of the watery elements are made for wise men to contemplate and for fools to pass by without consideration.”
On the final day of our trip, we stopped by our old apartment complex. The complex is part of a larger group of buildings that share walking trails as well a large pond. The pond is chalk full of Koi and as we walked around it, we could see carp bubbles everywhere. To think, for so many years, there were carp at my doorstep and never even thought about them. That night I had a dream that I was at a park when I spotted a group of commons eating bugs off the surface. I can vividly recall the golden brown scales breaking the surface of the water as they fed. Being the opportunistic angler I am, I rigged up my fishing rod and started freelining bread to these fish. Just like in real life, I hooked one and then lost it. After molding some more bread around a hook that could only exist in a dream, I recast and I was in.