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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Up a River without a Paddle (Blog Forty-six)

My son Mark and I are both high school English teachers, and we both go back to school in a few days. So this past Monday we decided to take our Dagger Legend canoe on a fishing excursion down the James River which flows near our Botetourt County, Virginia homes.

 Elaine kindly did the shuttle, dropped Mark and me off at the put-in near the community of Glen Wilton, and we then arranged our lunches, water, rods, and tackleboxes, and prepared to debark.

"Dad, where are the paddles?" Mark asked.

If two people are going on a canoe fishing trip, there are three essentials: a canoe, fishing gear, and, well, paddles.  I had managed to leave one-third of the essentials in the backseat of my vehicle.

Of course, I know better.  I have written four books on river fishing.  The following day I was scheduled to give a talk to the Buchanan Rotary Club on river fishing for goodness sakes.  It was also abundantly clear that I had royally messed up in the trip planning category.

There were only two options.  First, I told Mark to see if he could find some sticks that might serve as makeshift paddles (picture below).  Second, because Mark had left his cell phone in the car, I would walk into Glen Wilton and see if someone would let me use a phone and call Elaine on her cell.

Fortunately, the local post office was open and the kindly post mistress let me use her phone.  As the line from Streetcar Named Desire goes, "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers."

Elaine, who has long sweetly endured my forgetfulness, drove back to the access point and dropped off the paddles.

The fishing was poor as I never could figure out what the smallmouths were feeding on, but Mark and I enjoyed our day together, witnessed an osprey, a turkey hen with poults, and a fawn along the shoreline.  I also broke my flyrod, which like the paddle episode was entirely my fault.  All in all, it was a day when my incompetence seemed to be as glaring as the August sun.

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