It is difficult to know why any modern member of our esteemed species, particularly those ruminating the issues of age, would allow themselves to walk out on avery frozen lake, amid the constant push of a gentle breeze, to sit for many hours, back to the wind, in an attempt to catch an eight-ounce fish. While it may seem I have a derogatory tone in this inquisition, that cannot be the case because it was me that made the long walk, all bundled, all stiff, all tucked in my confining cocoon.
Even at twenty-two degrees, it was just matter of time before the cold crept in and begin the nagging push to force me away from this Zhivago-like adventure, this arctic trudge that would likely hold no sense of accomplishment at the end. I do not live in some gulag archipelago and could be home comfortably tight against the warm wood stove dreaming of other, maybe distant, outdoor conquest, or casually consuming a fresh, still-warm cookie, or smiling with amorous intent at my always-suspicious wife.
However,the cold held off and from one hole to another we moved wanting to find the magic, the school of keepers that would provide sustenance for our notably well-fed families. The wind, or was it a breeze, obviously non-threatening, bit as we faced into it, thinking the better school of bluegills were to the west in what we calculated was a deeper more productive hole. I shuffled as an older man, but little different than the others all bundled, bulging and confined in thick clothing For me, maybe more as truggle since I had my legs shot away in the big war, when I took a mini-ball at Gettysburg—so it is rumored. The cold does work a man’s mind and as we sat there, it was not difficult to recall other years, maybe long ago before my time, when this lonely adventure was more crucial, more a task of desperation.
These thoughts still did not answer the question, the one mostly beginning with the word why, yes why. After finding no fish and embarrassingly venturing within inches the dreaded hypothermia, I returned shuffling, confused, almost stumbling to the warm vehicle with my head shaking in doubt thinking it is a younger man that needs to walk across the frozen landscape to embrace his beloved metaphorical Tonya or secure a few paltry, but delicious fishes. My more appropriately-equipped companion caught fish, a few meals and at no time struggled with the cold December breeze, the foreboding clouded skies, or the modest weather that was my demise.He is not even Norwegian and still smiled as if the world was complete– and he was the master of the pond, the triumphant angler—which I jealously suspect, at that moment, Jim was.
Still chilled, maybe despondent, I ask, why do I choose to do this?