I grew up fishing.
Some of my favorite memories as a kid involve standing on the bank of some river, somewhere in Northern California, and calling out excitedly to my father at every single tug of the line.
“I’ve got one Dad!” I would loudly proclaim as my lure or my bait washed over a rock or got pulled through a ripple – something that in time I’ve been able to understand, but as a 7-year-old firmly believed was a trophy trout that I would brag about forever.
Around a dozen times a year we would throw our poles into his pickup trip and take off for Spicer or Beaver Creek or some remote stretch of the Upper Sacramento and spend our evening watching the sun dip out of sight and the nighttime feeding frenzy begin, fending off mosquitoes and bugs as the legal fishing window slowly approached.
There’s something magical about those moments, and the things that I learned on those trips not just about fishing, but about life in general. Persistently throwing my lure on my pushbutton Zebco taught me that persistence is the key to anything in this world, and patience – especially when you’re walking along uneven, rocky ground – should never be disregarded.
I sometimes question the knowledge that I accrued from my father from these sessions, which occurred year-after-year without fail, because questionable choices in the second half of my life have led, undoubtedly, to learned behavior that seems to counter the point behind those lessons.
But that’s the beautiful thing about going fishing – every single time you step out into the wild, and find yourself wading hip-deep in snow runoff searching for the perfect foothold, all of those decisions are the only thing that will keep you company while you’re spending hour-after-hour performing basic, repetitive tasks hoping to achieve the same result.
People pay thousands of dollars for self-help seminars and weekend getaways, but the only thing that you really need is a rod and a reel and the patience to sit, stand, kneel or float there long enough to work out whatever you happen to be going through.
While most of you are reading this today, sitting in your nooks with a fresh cup of coffee in hand – maybe some bacon crackling in the background – I’ll be traversing some section of Hat Creek or the Pit, McCloud or Fall Rivers ready to dispatch any weight that I carried into this annual excursion into what my father calls “God’s country” as I work on my fly-drowning technique and think about the time in which I’ll get to share this experience with my own son.
Then I’ll be able to impart some of the wisdom that I learned from my father onto him so that one day he’ll be able to ponder how he’s going to pass it along.
Life moves too fast sometimes – work and familial obligations coupled with social calendars that are constantly overbooked means that it’s not uncommon to be going from the time one puts their feet on the ground in the morning to the time that they swing them back up under the covers at night.
While I might not be able to do it nearly as much as I want to – I think there’s a standing fishing trip with my father-in-law that has been talked about for the last year without ever coming to fruition – I cherish this chance to take a step back and disappear into the land of my youth, however fleeting the moments may be.
And as Bulletin outdoor columnist Don Moyer would say, “tight lines” everybody.
A strike on the horizon?
Earlier this week the Manteca Unified Board of Education made a very unexpected and very public counter to the proposal that was submitted by the Manteca Educators Association for a new contract through the 2020 school year.
On the surface, this is a wonderful thing – the district’s pitch was almost everything that the teachers had asked for (that was pointed out by Board President Stephen Schluer) and it effectively resolves the dispute that has brought the district closer to the point of a strike than ever before in its 51-year history.
And whether it’s a good thing or not depends on who you ask the question.
The negotiators for the teachers’ union are absolutely beside themselves over the fact that the board essentially did an end-around and took their appeal directly to the nearly 300 teachers that were in attendance at the meeting.
So instead of using the appointed mediator to make the proposal, the board appealed directly to roughly one-fourth of the 1,200 teachers within the district, and then handed out a detail sheet to members of the public at the same time they gave it to the people that they were negotiating with.
Something about that just seems off to me.
While no laws may have been broken – the teachers are claiming that they have been – the motivation behind the disclosure does leave some questions that will likely never be answered.
As an interested observer, it wasn’t hard to see that the teachers were going to use the meeting as a lectern to let their voices be heard by the people who directly control the purse strings, and once that announcement was made, the room deflated like a cheap balloon as people struggled to understand exactly what had happened.
If it was a tactic, it was a genius one – the angry, rhetorical barbs that were such a part of the last board meeting were dashed in an instant, and it put pressure on the negotiators who will now have to answer to those 1,200 members about whether it makes sense to take a deal that is almost exactly what they asked for at the start of negotiations.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve never held a job that was organized in any way, and I have no point of reference when it comes to etiquette on labor or contract negotiations and what strategies are best for maintaining unity and ensuring a healthy outcome for all involved parties.
With that said, it’s hard to believe that the sting from what happened on Tuesday night – being viewed by the negotiation team of MEA as a slap in the face – will wear off anytime soon.
Here’s to hoping that doesn’t affect the classroom experience for the students of Manteca Unified.
Has anybody seen Chris Teicheira?
As you’ve already learned, I’m on my annual fishing trip at the moment and Chris Teicheira, who used to pen this Friday column, was supposed to pop back up with a guest column talking about, I believe, his affinity for a certain longtime educator and the dilemma he faced recently when deciding…I don’t want to give it all away.
He even mentioned on his podcast – the PTC Podcast, now available on iTunes for free download – that he had discussed the idea of making a brief return.
There’s really no point to this other than to put the ball back in his court and remind him that I’m going out of town again at the end of the month so he should probably come up with an idea now.
So, if you see him, let him know that the opportunity exists.
And I’ll be waiting.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.