Yesterday afternoon, after my morning adventure to Marco Island, I headed back to my camground in the swamps and decided to spend the mid afternoon bass fishing the canals that cut through the glades. There’s little else I enjoy more. It’s so quiet and mysterious back there, the senses are constantly delighted by the sights and sounds of the vibrant ecosystem. Tropical birds, lizards, snakes, turtles, and gators are my constant companions.
This was my first time picking up the fishing pole since winter put a damper on the trout fishing out in the Black Hills. I was amazed at how quickly my fisherman’s instincts took over, how naturally my mind became quiet and my focus intense. My first catch took a little skill and instantly boosted my enthusiasm. The bass had lightly scooped my plastic worm off the bottom and started to run with it. I didn’t feel any strike, but I saw the line start to drift to the right. Without hesitation I yanked up the rod to set the hook and the water exploded with the wrath of an angry bass fighting for its life. It was a smaller bass, so its life was spared. After changing locations to deeper in the swamp, I caught three medium sized bass and two panfish. I was tempted to keep each bass, but I ended up releasing them in hopes of catching a bigger fish to be the entre of my birthday dinner. After about ten more minutes of fishing with no luck, I started to regret throwing back my earlier catches. Two of them would have made a great meal, but now I was empty handed.
Not wanting to feel bummed out on my birthday, I just accepted the fact that tonight I would be eating potatoes and then strapped my rod to my dirtbike and headed back. Just before reemerging back onto the paved main road, I stopped by one more fishing hole that I had never tried before. A few casts in, I got what I was looking for. Again, the bass struck the line lightly, and I had to intuit he was there, whipping the rod tip up to set the hook. Instantly I felt the heavy resistance and I knew I had hooked a big one. He put up a good fight but I managed to flop him up onto the bank. I got my birthday bass.
Knowing I was done fishing, I didn’t bother putting him on a stringer, but instead pulled out my fishing pliers and gave the fish a violent smack right between the eyes to kill it. The bass immediately went into convulsions in my hand, and I hit it a few more times just to make sure I had done the job. I wrapped him in a zip-lock bag, strapped him to my bike, and motored the few miles back up the Tamiami Trail to camp.
Entering camp I felt so proud with my rod and catch displayed on the back of my bike rack. I’m sure no one noticed or cared, but in my mind I was a hero, a man who went out into the swamps to catch dinner, now returning triumphantly to enjoy his birthday feast complete with joints and tequila.
Yet before preparing dinner, I took the time to do a thorough session of yogic breathing exercises followed by meditation. I actually had an uncharacteristically deep meditation where I simply dissolved into the tranquil evening around me. I couldn’t tell the difference between myself and the sounds of the insects and frogs in the pond, the whisper of the wind, or the occasional splashes of swamp creatures on the hunt. Everything was clarity and bliss.
In such a mood, I took my time and made a delicious dinner of rice, sauteed veggies, and two ample bass filets. Then I blended up some hash, cannabis flower, and tobacco into a perfect cone joint and headed down the road to a quiter place to walk along the canals, contemplate, and smoke in peace. I had a birthday talk with God out there, expressing gratitude for all my blessings, and asking for continued guidance and blessings so that I can make the most out of this life and serve God and humanity at my greatest capacity. And of course I prayed for the wellbeing of my parents and the healing of the world.
I ended the night a tall glass of tequila and an episode of Rockford Files in the van on the pond edge. It was a happy birthday.