Jason Hawkins Outdoors: An epic day on the water
It is the word the sweaty, lip-stained, shirt-stained, knee-skinned, dirty-fingered, blue-eyed, shoelaces untied, six-year-old youngest son of mine choose to describe how we spent the day on the water.
He is six but he will soon be seventeen and after I am gone he will be seventy and I can only hope that this own boy’s boy will one day say a day on the water was, epic.
So, what makes an epic day?
Certainly it is an epic catch of epic proportions. The fish must be large enough and big enough and the manner of baiting, hooking, catching, and savoring the moment all constitute epic.
Perhaps epic is running out of bait. You know the feeling. A cup of worms and a bucket of fish and that night with a thousand scales on your forearms and in your hair, those worms in that cup contributed to epic.
Maybe, epic is a big fish from the big water. Ah, the day is amazing and the water is not worthy of these words and the manner and immediacy and aggressiveness and tussle and hustle of the fish strained muscles, dilated eyes, sped a heart faster, and all of this and more created epic.
Our epic was none of this. It is a core understanding anglers and boys understand and has nothing to do with fish caught.
Epic is a state of time. Epic is a state of mind. Epic is a state of who cares if a fish is caught. Epic is forgetting bait. Epic is being constantly tangled. Epic is everything seems to be going wrong. Yet, epic is despite all of this and other factors that might plague you and me and knee-stained boys, it really doesn’t matter because there is more to life than catching a fish.
On this day, creatively crafted as epic, we did not catch a fish. Actually, we did not even have a bite. It was hot and sunny and the boat was crowded and in three hours of attempt, three liters of salty, sweet, not so warm, kid-friendly drinks were consumed.
And there is the matter of the taste. It is the taste I feel now, days later, that might, despite multiple brushings, linger for longer than I like.
You see, the combination of red worms, black dirt, lake water and orange colored chips, lingers, lasts, and reminds me of epic. No fish. Hot. Fingers tasting like worms and chips. Crowded boat. And giggles.
After the appropriate number of requests and careful analysis and the white flag a father sometimes surrenders, I agreed to share in steering the trolling-motor powered boat.
At the forty-first complete circle, I said that one more would be enough, and for once that day, he listened.
Again, our purpose that day was just to catch some fish.
Upon coming out of his circle-course, I suggested we just ride, safely, somewhere towards the middle. I sat behind him while he steered, as it used to be called. We were shirtless. The water massaged the bow.
And he looked at me and said, “epic.”
There are times we catch fish and we do not tangle and the evening is subtle and cool and my fingers do not taste awkward. There are times that I steal away into the sacred moments of a day and I cast alone.
Some days are good. Some days are slow. Some days are a mystery. And, some days you just know.
Such was the case this day, an epic day. A day when we were stained, the fish did not bite, the fingers tasted like worm, forty-two circles surprised me, the air felt good on our shirtless torsos, and a boy of six soon to be 17 and in the blink of an eye to be 70 this same boy painted this fishless day “epic.”
Enjoy your time outdoors.
Email Jason Hawkins at firstname.lastname@example.org