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Just another day on the water?
The Lower Stanislaus is fishable and a great place to reflect. - photo by Photo by JEFF LUND

When I was an 8th grader, standardized testing said I scored in the 98th percentile nationally in science.

I was in the 54th in written expression.

Fortunately, I don’t live in a country where the government sends me to a vocational camp based on test scores at age 13. With some accountability and industriousness, I earned a job to which I have added a secondary job which you are reading.  

So in honor of having a great full-time and part-time job, I tried to do something special for Labor Day, but it came out routine.

I went fishing.

Which is not to say that I am any more put together than anyone else because my routine involves something I am passionate about, but I do cringe to think what my life would be with a passion sitting like leftovers in the back of the fridge that become so old you throw away the container too.

Since the water is finally down on the lower Stanislaus, I decided to pacify my need for outside, and stood in the current casting to trout while people passed on rafts.

I think I was supposed to be upset at their intrusion, but I loved it. The shrieks and laughter of families and friends using paddles to scrape water off the surface in the direction of rival inflatables was great. I heard no talk of work and no one blamed the Tea Party or President Obama for things like over-cooked chicken.

Most river crafts had a representative that asked how the fishing was. I got a thumbs up, some wide eyes and even a, “Yeah boss” when I said I caught one.

Some of the greetings may have been alcohol induced, but I did enjoy coexisting with my fellow river users.

I started thinking about the next weekend, and how I would spend it.

Twice I’ve been to the place where buildings and people fell that morning 10 years ago. Once when it was called Ground Zero and then when it was, the future site of one World Trade Center — or the Freedom Tower.

Both times I was a wreck.

You can’t walk in Lower Manhattan and not remember the clouds of dust or look at the sidewalks and just see slabs of concrete, or see a fire fighter or policeman and think, “ordinary.”

Every so often for the past 10 years I have wondered about that day. I actually cheered for the Yankees in the World Series that year, just because I thought that’s what the city deserved.

With every publication prepping 10th anniversary copy I’d like to believe that unity hasn’t been diluted by something as simple as time and that we could all get together for hot dogs, potato salad and a drift down the Stanislaus like Labor Day, but the last 10 years have been riddled with political gesturing, ideological theories and protests about who was right and who was wrong about our nation’s reaction to evil.

Chances are we will largely be watching features, programs and interviews on the television and remember where we were, how we reacted and probably wet a whole bunch of Kleenex.

Sunday will be a reminder of the evil that was done, and a reflection of how we have lived since. I don’t want to watch TV at all.

Not as a sign of disrespect or to avoid confronting lingering questions or emotions, but I’d rather spend the day living and enjoying what others no longer have or never had — time and freedom.