There is never the hardness and bitter cold of winter fishing in March, but the month has a wild competitive savagery of strength suddenly aroused from sleep. Under it, somewhere, the alevins shelter and grow. -Roderick Haig-Brown, A River Never Sleeps
March is the last month of my posts aligned to the chapters from A River Never Sleeps. It started with April of last year as a one-off but afterwards, it just seemed right to continue. With this post, the annual cycle is complete.
If I had really been focused on fishing, I should have been on the coastal rivers of the Olympic Peninsula this weekend. The flows were agreeable and the sun was shining. However, the kids’ sports kept me close to home which is really no bother at all. It’s a priviledge to be part of their development into sound, well-rounded people. In this case, it was Angus’ Jr High district wrestling tournament. He exited early but the fight he showed was inspiring. His older sister, a more accomplished wrestler was in tears as she consoled him after his loss. Relative to the scale of the event, there can’t be a tougher athletic loss than losing a wrestling match. There was a very good article in the Huffington Post by David Crisanti that describes this much better than I could: May The Best Man Win
Crisanti writes “It is impossible to put in to words how it feels to lose a high level wrestling match — you have dedicated your life to this pursuit that required so much sacrifice and hard work, and if you fall short you have nothing to show for it and no one else to blame. No money, no fame, and most unkind, no sense of accomplishment, even if you are at that point a national runner-up. In fact, all you are left with at that moment is proof that you did not prepare enough, or do enough or have enough to be the better man.“
But the same is true at the lower levels even down to the high school matches and earlier. The thoughts might not be as well formed but the feeling is the same. I’ve seen it on countless young faces over the last four years. However, the lessons that can be learned in this sport can be true character builders. I’ve seen it in my own kids as well as in the development of other young men and women. Again from the same article:
“Despite my background as an athlete I was not a big believer that sports build character. I was more on the side that sports revealed it. But with the benefit of time and experience, it is clear to me that this sport builds humility. It does so by dint of its lack of chance.
In daily life, discovering our own true acumen can be much harder to come by. Any job, any relationship, any pursuit is beset with the whims of chance and more still, the participation and subjectivity of others. There is virtually no endeavor, within sport or without, as free from external factors as a wrestling match.”
I did get a chance to visit my ‘home water’ on Sunday. It’s really too early in the season and I had no expectation of catching a trout but it was good to spend some time on a small stream enjoying the first signs of spring among the lingering snow. Next month should bring the first trout of the year and hopefully, a few final winter steelhead!