Traveling in Circles

When everything is going as planned in life it’s easy to be happy with the world and love everyone and everything around you.

When times are tough and plans go awry, it’s a lot harder to love.

I went nearly two weeks without internet access and email this month. A wicked virus had entered my computer. I’m not sure how it happened, but the event did happen to coincide with a two-day visit from my youngest son.

The malware-eating virus that forced me to reformat my hard drive and install a new operating system which, combined with a 20-year-old guest who broke my TV remote control and left socks, shoes, glasses, plates and food wrappers in various places around the house, turned me into a stressed-out, angry woman who carried her irate state with her everywhere she went.

I wasn’t much fun at all to be around. I hated everyone and everything.

When I’d hit the river to fish, on good days with polite company, I could relax, enjoy the scenery and take pleasure in my small fishing victories.

On bad days, when the other anglers tended to act as testy, rude and self-absorbed as I was feeling, I felt as if I was fighting a constant battle in a war zone.

At one point last week, as I passed by an angler with a fish on my line, he reached up his hand to touch my line for the third time that day instead of ducking his head a little.

I lost it, “Touch my line just ONE more time, and I will kick your …” — well, I think you get my meaning.

I was serious. I had had enough. I had become one of those angry, I-own-the-river, ugly anglers that ruin other people’s good time and make this combat fishery live up to its name. (We became friends by the end of the day, by the way.)

A few days later a woman angler (dang women on the river!) stood to my left, she was loving the long drift and trying my patience. The anglers to my right and I finally gave up on trying to get her to keep rhythm with the rest of us and started casting over her line.

When she finally hooked into a fish and it started to run, that durned fish jumped around my line — twice. Our lines were tangled together and no matter hard I tried, there was no getting untangled.

I had to cut my line.

I stomped back to shore, geared back up and headed for the other end of the line. I wanted to get as far away from her as I could.

When I finally arrived at the next available opening in the long row of fishermen, settled into place and cast out in rhythm with the line, I noticed that I didn’t have enough line left on my reel to let a big king run more than 20 yards or so — which meant I had to make a run up to the Barrier Dam Campground and re-spool.

It wasn’t until the next day when I realized what a gift that woman had given to me when her actions had forced me to put new line on my reel.

That next day my 8-year-old granddaughter came down to the river with me. The plan was for me to catch a fish and bring it close enough for her to reel it in.

I didn’t have any success in hooking a fish until what was to be my last cast. Suddenly the rod took a hard dip and my reel whined, making that sound that elevates the heart-rate of every man or woman plying the water. “Whizzzzzz!”

I yelled back at my granddaughter to head for the far shore and I waded through the deep, slow waters to meet her. The fish was running for the boat launch and there was no slowing it down.

When we reached the boat launch, we sat down on the end of it, both of us holding onto the pole for dear life. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, we had a fish on the line and all felt right with the world as we quietly talked and wondered together over the size of the fish.

Without a full reel of line, we wouldn’t have been able to watch the big king jumping 100-plus yards away as he headed down river.

I’m thankful for the troubles I have. Sometimes the troubles are gifts in disguise. Often those troubles make me stronger, wiser and a little more tolerant of others who are suffering and struggling.

“When you change the way you look at things,” says Dr. Wayne Dyer, “the things you look at change.”

My internet is back, I’m able to send and receive email from home. Life is good.

My son is also back — still leaving clothes, trash and dirty dishes in his wake — but, oh, how I love him.

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Kimberly Mason is a freelance writer who enjoys watching and photographing the wildlife in her own backyard in Cinebar.  Visit her wildlife and outdoor encounters photography blog, The (Almost) Daily Bird, at http://blogs.chronline.com/dailybird. Contact her via email at kz@tds.net or call 269-5017 to share unusual wildlife observations, or to discuss upcoming events and topics you would like to see covered in The Chronicle Outdoors section.