Friday, March 24, 2006

I grew up fishing and hunting with my grandfather who loved the outdoors so much that he infected his son-in-law, my father, with the habit and did his best to pass it on to me. I have not hunted in many years and it has been far too long since the fishing rods in the basement have seen open water. Perhaps as spring approaches I will clean up the tackle and take my own sons out on the Shenandoah in memory of my father, grandfather, and the old "parson" who started it all.

The parson spent too much time in fishing, perhaps; but his memory at least is unregenerate; for he looks back upon that time spent in fishing as among the golden hours of life. He learned to know the woods and waters. He knew every hole of mink and otter in many miles. He knew the hillside where the first arbutus bloomed. He violated the game laws by shooting muskrats by moonlight, and argued questions of theology with a fine old preacher of another Church, who was such an enthusiastic fisherman that he would put on a small hook and fish in the bait bucket while the bacon was being fried for dinner. The parson still contends that fishing is the one democratic sport. He likes fishing for the same reason that Pat likes a street fight. "I dearly love a street fight," said Patrick, "for in a street fight, one man is just as good as another, and sometimes a blamed sight better." He has prayed for all sorts and conditions of men, and fished with them, too; and he has seen a reprobate, whom no man would trust for quarter, turn the boat, so that the other fellow could get the best fishing. Such a man only lacked training and opportunity to become a hero.