Tag Archives: Fish

What Children Do When Deprived of TV/Video Games

As we come closer and closer to winter’s bad weather and the associated heartlessness of forcing the children outdoors for their daily bout of video-game and tv-free (self)-entertainment, we’ve moved into arts-and-crafts mode.

Lest this be perceived as doily-decorating, scrapbook-creating fluffiness (confessing upfront that one of our two boys spends an inordinate amount of his non-tv time cooking and/or making architectural plans on post-it notes) I present this piece of handiwork, which makes me feel much more confident that my children will be equipped to survive a coming apocalypse:

the rubberband fly-fishing bait

Note that the red thread has been woven INTO the rubberband!

Although this little beauty was almost mistaken for lint and vacuumed from our living-room floor, it is worth noting that the creator  (I suspect my older, fishing-crazy son) adhered to house rules and did not complete his masterwork.  No hooks!

As a bait, it’s a little NQR, and just a tad redneck-ish.   As a demonstration of what a 12-year old can do when unplugged for a few minutes, it’s precious.

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Fishing from Pontius Pilate’s Palace

The gloom of a foggy, pre-winter day here on the east coast of the US has sent me back to my storehouse of Middle Eastern photos, perhaps seeking warmth, perhaps respite from academics and from brutal post-storm New Jersey traffic and congestion.

The ‘throne room’ or reception chamber of the governor’s palace at Caesarea.

I found a series of photos from a visit to the ancient Roman ruins of Caesarea in Israel.  They’re warm.  They’re balmy and quiet (I was almost alone, near closing time for the ruins, making a quick dash to see the site on my way back from a marathon tour day where I visited the entirety of the Golan Heights all the way up to Majd al-Shams, the ruins of Nimrod, the Lebanese-Israeli border, and the northern coast from Haifa down to Tel Aviv.)

Most important, these photos resonate with a sad truth about life and history: slow but steady decay, accompanied by the cheerier but still fatalistic idea that life continues, unabated, even over the most important puzzle pieces of a contentious past.

Two fishermen on a jetty that was probably, at one time, a garden courtyard overlooked by Pontius Pilate’s seaside reception chamber.

That is the mark of NQR I found at Caesarea:  the mundane littlenesses upon which the world really functions, many little examples of which seemed to be creeping — all at once — inward from the sea to reclaim such a fabulous, famous site.

For example, standing in the very spot where the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate held audience with the Apostle Paul and granted him the request to be judged, as a Roman citizen, in front of Caesar himself, I saw the ruins slipping back into the sea and a few local Arab men clambering over the shore, fishing.  Life continues.  I love that.  Despite the rocks, the ruins, the joinery, the faience tilework, the vista, these men operated on a simpler and more innocent level, plying the ruins in search of dinner.

Plaque (multi-language!) telling how the Apostle Paul sought an audience with the Emperor and was shipped to Rome from this location.

More of the world’s petty necessities creeping in toward Caesarea: a power plant just down the beach from the ruins.

A last beautiful photo of a fisherman on the sculpted but eroding shores of the ancient city.

 

 

 


Sleep Fishing

This image qualifies as the opposite of “Not Quite Right.”  It’s 100% right, what life should be like everyday.

Taken in the Boundary Waters, a canoe-only wilderness on the border of Minnesota and Canada.  My 12-year old had paddled 13 miles and then fished, almost non-stop, for the rest of the day.  Late afternoon, beautifully calm skies and waters, the fishing ‘action’ had drifted off and so, too, had he.  He’s completely asleep in this photo, though he’s holding his fishing pole cupped in both hands and though the bobber drifts on the mirror-flat surface of the lake.  A fish even bit at one point, pulling and jiggling the bobber beneath the surface.  He continued to sleep and then, at last, after about 20 minutes, startled awake, completely unaware of where he was!  How strange it must have been for him to wake from a dream into the very place of his dreams.

My 12-year old, in paradise.


An Original Odor

A few, a very few roadside hotspots have the power to ‘attract’ (or repulse) a traveler via smell alone.  This is one.  And its perfume (in comparison to Western notions of soapy, sometimes fake, cleanliness) provides a very compelling moment of NQR.

Fishermen heave at the drying tarps to roll up their catch.

In the Musandum Penninsula of Oman, just south of the city of Khasab, we drove past a beach where local fisherman had been drying their catch, millions upon millions of small minnows.  The smell from the beach was absolutely rancid, but the process itself proved to be fascinating and ingenious.  It involved the close cooperation of somewhere around twenty fishermen, each with separate boats, separate nets, separate small Toyota trucks used to haul their equipment, but with one shared, central task:  drying the fish.  The collective activity of these men, their cooperation rather than competition, speaks to a totally different cultural expectation than our capitalism.  Certainly they are all in it for profit, at some level, but the ties of kinship and mutal support that likely drive their cooperation are certainly alien to the western idea of how work ought to be performed.

Late afternoon shade falls over millions of dried minnows.

The fishermen were very clever in placing their drying mats.  In full sun during the height of the day for maximum drying benefit, the shadows of the nearby cliffs fell toward and then over the mats at just the same time as the sardines reached an acceptable level of dryness.  This allowed the fishermen to work in the shade, a vigorous hour of activity rolling up mats, whacking fabric to dislodge stuck fishies, creating huge piles of sardines.

While, admittedly, the process employed many modern conveniences — toyotas, synthetic plastic tarps, fiberglass hulled boats with diesel engines — an element of the primordial process remained:  the fish whacking sticks themselves, usually pieces of driftwood found on the beach.

Plump sheik displays his handy fish-whacker.

If it weren’t for the smell, I might have been tempted to jump in and assist!


What is Not Quite Right?

Not Quite Right:  It’s that feeling, at odd moments when traveling or living abroad — say, for instance, watching a man on a desert road carry a cardboard box on his head, sloshing full of water and fish — when you just have to look twice, reconfirm the presence of fish, and prove to yourself you weren’t just imagining.

Fishermen in the inner harbor, Sur, Oman.

The funny thing is, often this idea works both ways.

After a moment you might say:  “Hmmm, fish in a box . . . why not?”

And then you might say:  “You know, a couple years ago when I tried to carry that slippery critter back from the boatdock with my bare hands . . . maybe a cardboard box wouldn’t have been such a bad idea.”

And, even later, you might come full circle, saying something like: “Why, when there are so many perfectly good cardboard boxes in the world, do fishermen bother with ice coolers?”

I think such moments are important, cutting both directions.  It’s needed in our world now, little instances, accumulations of detail to show us we are all interlinked and that our different ways of being, though different, aren’t necessarily better or worse.  Traveling for the last year, I’ve experienced this not quite right moment almost daily.  This blog is my attempt to share not only the specific  observations I’ve accumulated but also the sense of how life abroad, and really seeing, can change perceptions.