May 15, 2006

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
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Things I Never Knew
By Robin Rhyne

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 forward.

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


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