Saturday, September 11, 2010

If it's ugly, is it worth doing?

Impersonating someone with fishing skill
I have begun a crazy stretch of professional and domestic chaos that doesn't look like it'll let up for another 3 weeks (or, you know, 17 years), culminating with Hank's first birthday party! I'm trying to be as zen as possible about the absolute dissolution of any free time to do anything, but it's definitely challenging.
This week, I had a long day of meetings on the road, splitting my time as usual between conversations about wetland design and how the hell do we pay for these wetlands that we've designed, and I intentionally crafted myself a window in the afternoon to get afield. That my time window was designed to find me 5 miles from the farm I lease was not a coincidence, although organizing your schedule this way is plenty stressful - there is plenty of work to be done, and you may be just one site visit or one "extra" cup of coffee away from not being able to slip away and have a little fun.
Oh, the fish? You want to hear more about the fish?! Well, I called around and figured out that very few doves or geese were in town, so I grabbed my fishing rod and headed over to a very secluded pond on public land that I'd been meaning to fish for years. The clock was ticking before my next appointment. Due to drought and heat, the pond was a mess - down 2 feet and very dark (anoxic) water. Fish were hitting the surface, so I knew that somebody was around. I fished for about 25 minutes, trying at least 10 lures, and finally caught the tiny pumpkinseed below on a hi-viz beetle fly. I was pretty disillusioned at that point, but also was aware of the fact that I had another 30 minutes to kill, so I kept working a variety of lures.
As a last resort, I tried the 2" BPS black/white/red popper that I used to catch this monster (a trophy spotted bass) in July. I kept working the edge of the pond, which was lined with cattails and Phragmites. After 5 minutes or so, the water exploded, my reel's drag ran, and I ended up with the guy above. Got a few photos and slipped him back into the pond - never touched any part of him except his gill. Fun retrieve and it might have just made my week.

Embarassing and desperate!
But that brings me back to my larger point. As we get older and take on more responsibilities and burdens - many of them with long term rewards - what do we do in the short term? Be content to be unsatisfied? Throw caution (and risk aversion) to the wind and blow off "today" and its list of responsibilities?

I guess I find myself in the middle, and it's a tough tightrope. This time, getting out for one hour and catching a fish of this size, at a spot I've never fished, made it a no-brainer. I still worked a full workday, got home at a reasonable time, and enjoyed a beautiful hour outdoors, as the temperatures here have dropped into the mid 70s.
Was it worth doing? And are these "quickies" worth doing on a regular basis? I'm not really sure but I know what my attitude is like when I have the opportunity and I don't go. Those little regrets have kept me on this treadmill since I first worked on the beach in 1995 and thought "you know, I could probably surf before work...."


biobabbler said...

One of the reasons I'm glad I blog is that it gets me out more. Even a little hike with camera makes for a more interesting blogging week than NO hike. You could, however, be scientific and take those micro breaks one week and not take them another week, alternating for a few weeks and record how you feel in a journal. I'm guessing getting out is good for you, so even without the test, I'd vote for that.

Michael Agneta said...

Your micro breaks are worth it...if you're enjoying them. Life is for living, not just for 'to-do' lists and tasks. 30 minutes fishing can be just enjoyable as a full day if that's all you've got.

Leigh, Andrea Leigh Gil said...

My thoughts exactly! Keep up the outings... I am in the same both but have found them to be a worthy cause.

Unknown said...

you have to get out when you can, even if it is for only a few minutes. I love to take the dog down to the pecan orchard while I am home for lunch and see if we can scare up a squirrell or two. Only takes a few minutes but really recharges your batteries.

Kirk Mantay said...

That's been my overall attitude for a long time, and I don't think I'm really waivering on it. I'm just freaking tired because there's a baby (mine) in the house.

And let's be honest - there is "choice" involved. There were 115 degree days where the wife wouldn't have cared at all if I fished or surfed all day, or spent all afternoon shooting clays.

Instead, my usual M.O. is to "be ready" to take advantage of the right weather conditions and put myself in the position to catch a good wave, a nice fish (or 20), and maybe a few birds in the cooler, although I will generally have a half day or less to do so.

It's not the worst approach.

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