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… And a Crystal Caddis in a fir tree

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POSTED December 15, 2010 2:59 a.m.
Click. Click. Click.

“Welcome to Bass Pro … hello … hello … hi … good afternoon … Happy Holidays … Welcome to Bass Pro.”

Click, click, click, click.

There has to be a clause in the Bass Pro Shops contract that no one will claim seasonal disability on account of things like standing under the faux Redwood and pressing a clicker every time someone enters the store.

The line is not quite as bad as passing through airport security, but there is definitely a labored pace as the channeled flow of shoppers files next to Clickerman.


The smiling cheeks have to burn as — click — everyone must be greeted — click, click — even if most people just busily — click — walk into the store — click — ignoring the greeting and certainly the click-click from the palm of the greeter.

I wouldn’t mind that job, though putting a click to each face that enters through the grand fake-living room into the grander spending room would be a daunting task.

It’s not a seasonal gig like Santa, Christmas tree vendors, fudge sellers or assorted elves scattered about to run games, help in crowd control or find lost items like grandkids.

Though this time of year the intensity of the task grows astronomically.

As I worked through the top level looking at waterproof boots that will replace the pair I’ve annihilated over the past half decade, I got a text from my buddy Abe.

It was a picture of a king salmon, protruding from the cold, salty Alaskan ocean; its strong, efficient, silver flanks reflecting the weak slant of the afternoon sun. My rebuttal was something to the effect I was thinking about getting my picture taken with Santa.

I thought of seasonal jobs back home.

Steve the cook is watching the hibernating Fireweed Lodge for the winter. During his time off from sitting around in the rustically luxurious dining room reading, he caught two nearly expired silver salmon on my home river, two months after all the rotten carcasses should have been slurped up by black bear and bald eagles.

Apparently they didn’t care much for the season they were supposed to follow. Steve the cook didn’t mind.

There usually is a large discrepancy between expectation and reality. One might expect the Alaskan turned Californian to always have a Christmas tree, when the reality is this is the first year I have had a tree since high school.

Do you really expect a former Alaskan to pay for what I used to chop down with my own hatchet?

Paying money for a tree always seemed unreasonable, but I gave in this year and traded a seasonal salesman some greenbacks for a tree. I told mom I had plenty of ornaments. She asked where I got them, I said the tackle box.

“I’ll bring some down,” she replied, imaging a 6-foot tree covered in crank-baits, spinnerbaits, salmon spinners and steelhead flies.

My Disneyland-loving friends offered ballerinas and princesses.

I didn’t think that was funny.

So as of now the douglas fir is sitting in my living room with 200 lights and three salmon lures dangling from its slowly drying needles. It’s pretty, and smells nice, but part of me, well, honestly a lot of me wishes I could have pulled off the highway back home, hiked through the snow bank, and dug it out of the ground myself like the Great Clark Griswold.

Alas, someone else grew it, someone else cut it, someone else drove it here, someone else said it should cost what it did, someone else sold it to me, and a student tossed it in my truck.

Tis the season.

To contact Jeff Lund, e-mail
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