February is my favorite month; it begins with my birthday and ends with The Fisherpoets Gathering. This year is no different except this year my birthday is causing me to reflect more than normal. You see up till now my brain has done a pretty good job of convincing itself I’m still in my twenties, and its co-conspirator (my body) has done a fair job of going along with the ruse. But this year I will be turning forty nine and my brain is having a hard time laundering the birthdays to make it appear there’s only twenty-something (there’s no convenient Cayman Island account where one can stash a few birthdays). My joints are threatening to strike unless I stop working them like they’re twenty; they seem to be partial to this new concept of working smarter rather than harder, which looks good on paper, but implementation can be problematic unless you actually have gotten smarter. My eyes are still going along with the con; they claim everyone started using a smaller font in 2015. Needless to say, even someone as skilled at self-deception as me will have to admit at forty-nine I’m probably closer to the end of my road than the beginning, and that fact is causing some reflection.
However, reflection I’m finding out is only painful if you aren’t proud of what you see there. Yesterday as Tiff and I were meeting our off-the-boat customers at The Fish House, and then later on when I was making restaurant deliveries, it hit me like a ton of fish, I’M PROUD OF WHAT WE’VE BUILT HERE! I feel so much richer as a result of all the new friendships with chefs, store owners, farmers-market customers, distributors, and other members of my new fishing community. I really enjoy providing that connection between the WILD fish natural resource that a lifetime of harvesting has caused me to love, and the members of my community who for a variety of reasons- quality, sustainability, social benefits, etc. have sought out that connection. I like having the opportunity to answer questions about harvest techniques, fish stocks, sustainability measures and the myriad of details people wonder about the life of a fisherman, Likewise, I’m excited to learn about the details of non-fishing lifestyles from our customers/friends. It wasn’t that long ago when the idea of performing all the steps on the supply chain (harvest, process, distribute) was just a dream that I didn’t have much faith would come true. So I must say, today, almost on the eve of my forty-ninth year, I am almost moved to tears with gratitude, (Tiff is rolling her eyes). I must be getting soft in my old age!
Don’t worry I’m not going to get all maudlin with you and start making you read a bunch of sappy crap about all the obstacles we had to overcome to get here, but I would like to say this dream would never have come true without the willingness to take the risk necessary to pursue it. It also occurred to me risks are easier to take if you still believe you’re in your twenties. So, I guess if I had to come up with a moral for my little story here it would be this; let the wisdom of your years define your dreams, but go after them as if you still believe you’re twenty! And that my friends and $3.50 will get you a cup of coffee these days.
-fair weather and good fishing!
Because you were masochistic enough to read this far I’m going to punish you further with a poem I recently wrote.
for a hundred dollars a can
you can turn the old new again,
a two-part epoxy face lift.
One pass of the roller-
blemishes and imperfections disappear. With the
proper amount of prep-work dull and cracked will become smooth and
shiny. Let the needle-scaler chip away at the problem areas.
When you’re done painting
It’s important to step back and
admire your work. Take a minute to appreciate the
freshly painted perfection of your net-reel, say. Because,
you know as soon as you use it, it will begin its slow path of degradation
back to the state that caused you to paint it
in the first place.
But for that moment,
let those things you can’t control slip away, because maybe you cant
change the weather, or fishery politics, and maybe
your bouts with optimism are less frequent
but, right now
your net-reel is flawless.