A recent experience opened my eyes in a way that I had
not expected. About a year ago my parents celebrated
their fiftieth wedding anniversary. There was a grand
event, friends and family from near and far gathered
to celebrate. My mother had asked me and my brother and
sisters to each say a few words to the assembled, to
relate our memories of life at home.
It was obvious to me what I was going to talk about. I
had my speech prepared rapidly and well in advance. I
stood up at the podium and told everyone how my family
had taken a vacation to the Texas coast every summer, how
we had camped on the beach, fished off the piers, crabbed,
gigged for flounder, ate food that we had cooked there
onsite, driven into Rockport to buy bait and shop for
supplies at the HEB grocery store. We always loved the
beach because there was that delicious breeze that kept
the heat and mosquitoes at bay. We waded out into the bay
with ne'r a care until the day our campsite neighbors in
their boat came upon my father and I who were waist deep
and fifty yards offshore and proudly displayed the shark
and alligator gar that they had caught. I was a little
more circumspect about offshore wading after that. We
caught pinfish right and left and were pleased as punch!
You see, no one had told us that these "piggy pugs" were
baitfish and "notorious bait stealers" so we had a blast
catching them and the gafftopsails.
Crabbing was like crawdad fishing on steroids, a chunk of
dead fish on a string, a net and a man was good to go. Blue
crabs boiled on the beach cannot be beat. Flounder gigging
at night was a bit creepy for a young boy. "Shuffle your
feet so the sting rays don't sting you" was not a confidence
enhancer let me tell you!
OK, so I got done with my speech and it was sister's turn.
Lo and behold she described family trips to the coast. She
was almost rapturous in her description of how those trips
were still branded in her memory. Needless to say my brother
and other sister got up and told exactly the same tale.
So this set me to thinking. I love the water, I love to fish.
I would rather sleep in a tent and cook over a fire than stay
in a hotel, eat in the restaurant while on a trip or to ride
rides and watch cartoon characters march in file.
The water draws me, it whispers to me. It tells me that I am
connected to the world, that I am part and parcel of the
entire system of life. When I hook into the world this way
I do not feel like a "spectator." I feel like a cog in the
machine of nature. Taking fish or crabs to eat is not a
horrid crime. I am responsible for the continuation of life.
Nature depends on me to keep her safe and sound.
We are the stewards of nature, we are the ones who make sure
that she flourishes and persists. We are the action-takers,
the participants, the gears in the machine that drive it
I learned all that as a child on the Texas coast each summer.
I simply did not know what had been engrained into me until
many years later. ~ Robin Rhyne