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Ankles, anecdotes & attitude adjusters

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POSTED November 24, 2010 3:25 a.m.
Frightened or appalled by the prospect of walking up an escalator that dared to stop working, the lady stepped aside and allowed the guy with a frayed deltoid ligament on his left ankle and the other guy with a chewed up meniscus to hike up the stuck steps.

Ah, the mall.

It’s no airport, but it’s pretty good for human wildlife viewing a few times a year. Too much, though — can cause faith in humanity to wane.

Nate and I eventually settled onto a bench on the lower level after a few laps meant to walk off lunch and check the stability of our injured joints.

We watched boyfriends and girlfriends, grandparents, high school kids, dudes who are apparently way cooler than any other human on earth or at least love themselves as such, families about to take portraits, and parents using the ATM machine as an attitude adjuster.

We didn’t really get that one.
If we were acting out in public at their age the absolute last thing we would get was a stack of $20 bills. Some kids really have their parents trained.

Everyone then faded as we drowned ourselves in anecdotes of Russian River and American River steelhead, Alaskan Dolly Varden, trout and a possible drift boat trip this spring on the Upper Sacramento. Though there will be more fishing before the calendar rolls, it seemed appropriate to look back and maybe build toward a response to the “thankful for” question. We thumbed through our cerebral filing cabinets and spent a few minutes at the Klamath River, its fish and the great stonefly attack of June 1.

We consulted memories to conclude the potency of prince nymphs, egg-sucking leeches and why we would start with anything else.

We discussed the benefits of juicier nymphs, but considered the thin Montana Special that has never disappointed and I declared my desert island fly. Though I doubt a desert island would have a river that could sustain trout and salmon. It would have to be a river in a cooler environment with enough rain and snow to feed the river throughout the year and little to no pressure to create the circumstances that would fit the scenario.

This actually sounds pretty good. Wait, that’s where I grew up and spend every summer.  

Suddenly I feel a little like the brat at the ATM machine, whining when I don’t get my way. Of course it’s not that I don’t get my way. I’ve fished plenty of beautiful water within a few hours of the barn and caught plenty of fish.

It’s just not the same as home. Plus, though Nate and I both suggested a padded bank account would be nice, it wouldn’t change our lives.

I save enough money to go home, and home just happens to be a dream trip for outdoor and fishing enthusiasts.

In the words of John Gierach, “most of us don’t even want money; we just want relief from the struggle for it”.

Most, of course, because it wasn’t much of a struggle for those kids to pout their way into their parents’ bank account.

I’ll take seconds of turkey and give a lot of thanks tomorrow for the fact that I don’t have the means to go on exotic trips like dudes that have their own shows or huge bank accounts, but couldn’t ask for much more than what I already have.

Sure I’ve muddled through my mid- and late-20s with fishless trips, pay cuts, my brother in Iraq (now Guam) and the deaths of family and friends, but all are simply parts of being human and not dissimilar to the life stories of anyone else.

Maybe the best part of Thanksgiving is to be able to see what I have, rather than what I don’t, whether it be family, a job, health or even stories, rivers, flies and people with which to share them.

To contact Jeff Lund, e-mail
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