I am not much of a hunter. Nope. Couldn’t pull the trigger on Bambi let alone take down some huge African beast. Fishing seems almost tolerable, although I still feel sorry for both bait and fish. Ironically, I have salmon for dinner almost every week. It is a bit hypocritical that I don’t quite connect the slaughter of an animal with the slick shrink-wrapped pound of hamburger I toss into my cart at the supermarket.
Speaking of fishing, that’s today’s topic. Both my wife and my son love fishing. Living a short distance inland from the Florida coast, you won’t find a fishing hole much better than the Gulf of Mexico and its inland waterways. I do not like to fish. It’s smells awful, it’s painfully boring and frustrating if the fish aren’t biting and when they are, I usually pull up something too small to be legal and the hook is stuck in the fish’s eye to boot. Nah, fishing is not for me. There is good salmon to be caught at the supermarket and it’s already been cleaned and fileted.
Despite all this, I go fishing much more than I wish to. When Rosemarie goes fishing I usually schlep along. First of all, I am a duty-bound husband who doesn’t like his wife traveling alone. Secondly, see first. So, I carry the bait bucket for her and a chair for me. She fishes, I sit. Like a kid in the back seat nagging “Are we there yet?” I am constantly asking if it’s time to go yet.
One of the more favorable places we go fishing is the fishing pier. I have spent a good portion of my life accompanying Rosemarie to a fishing pier. There is one just a short drive from where we live. It’s a phenomenal place for people-watching. With that in mind, I have made some observations: people go to the pier either to actually fish or sightsee. There are more of the latter. These are couples or whole families with grandma in tow. The unexpressed goal is to walk out to the end of the pier. This is the destination of just about everyone who sets foot on the pier. It is here that the newly arrived will oooh and aaah at the glistening ocean water and the horizon off in the distance, then turn around and walk all the way back to the beach. Oops, almost forgot, this particular pier generates a crowd each evening and rewards it with the best seat on the water for sunset watching.
The other group of folks on the pier—including Rosemarie—have come for an entirely different reason. These are church people. To them, the pier represents the Cathedral of Hope. In fact, I have found that the fishing pier truly envelopes the entire concept of hope. Every person who walks its planks with rod in hand does so with impassioned hope and anticipation. They expect their efforts will result in a bountiful cluster of wiggling fish destined for the dinner table, accompanied with bragging rights. It rarely happens.
On the fishing pier, hope lies eternal. As for the fish? Well, the great majority swim away to live another day. This is life on the fishing pier. The people who engage its fantasy are exceptionally friendly and supportive of each other. Bait and gear, and anything else for that matter, are readily shared. Cheers and envy are exchanged if an actual fish is harvested successfully. And when it is, motivation to fish on is stimulated and hope is heightened even more.
The fishing pier is host to, and nurtures, what is truly an exclusive angler’s society. There is no entry fee or loyalty pledge needed…just rod and reel, a twitching shrimp as bait and the ever-optimistic anticipation and hope that this will be the day. I am not a member. Eventually, I fold my chair, grab Rosemarie’s bait bucket and walk back to the car. My hope is that the Dairy Queen we pass on the way home, will still be open.