By Web Master, 5-09-12
I had a lot of help in my descent into self-destruction. Fishing buddies, drinking friends, the usual assortment of n’er do wells that I like to associate with. They all encouraged me to buy a boat and take the plunge. A guide’s life is a fine one, they said.
Substance-abuse counselors refer to such persons as enablers.
I realize now they may have had ulterior motives. Their encouragement was something of a scam that goes like this:
I’d been fly fishing for decades, but I was still relatively inexperienced at the oars. Fortunately, Yoda is a patient man. To get my rowing skills up to speed he liked to toss out unexpected challenges. On one training float he directed us down a side channel barely wider than the reach of my oars. The channel was guarded by the root wad of a fallen cottonwood, which formed a particularly menacing barrier on the outside of the curve.
To make matters worse, Yoda wanted me to perform a nifty trick to negotiate the curve with a simple sweep of my downstream oar. The problem was, Yoda hadn’t quite gotten around to teaching me the trick he was now instructing me to execute. So instead of smoothly pivoting around the curve, gracefully waving the bow through the turn at a safe distance from the root wad, I got confused and started digging hard at the oars, back rowing. This was a relatively pointless exercise as the water leading into the side channel was so thin I couldn’t get much purchase.
Fortunately, though rather clumsily, I managed to bounce us through the side channel clear of the dangerous wood, leaving us unscathed. The same couldn’t be said for Yoda’s Winston fly rod. Somehow in the ordeal the tip had broken. When we pulled out on a downstream sandbar, Yoda quietly put the Winston away and pulled out his spare.
On another trip I drove with Yoda’s wife as we arranged our shuttle. When we motored into the round about at the access site, Yoda was standing in the lone beam of sunlight that broke through the thick cottonwoods along the river. He stood there, peering up at the sunglasses he held high above his head in the light. As we pulled up he spoke to us quietly, without breaking his gaze on the sunglasses, asking, "Where’s your spare oar?"
Sure enough the spare oar usually strapped to the raft was gone. It had fallen off on the ride up and as we went back to find it along side the road, his wife and I marveled at the Zen master’s divine inspiration, gleaned from a shaft of light refracted through a pair of polarized sunglasses.
When I later asked him about the vision, Yoda said to me, "Grasshopper, I noticed before we left that the straps on the oar were loose. I forgot to point it out to you so I just guessed."
"But what about your vision through the sunglasses?" I asked.
"Vision," he replied with a smile. "Those are light-sensitive prescription sunglasses, you dork. I was just trying to darken them up a bit before we got on the water."
[End of article]