Detective Harry Callahan, AKA Clint Eastwood uttered these iconic words in the movie “Magnum Force” upon discovering a bomb in a mailbox. Certainly, in the real world, it is an excellent philosophy, a violation of which often results in an unnecessary failure ranging from simply embarrassing to catastrophic. In an effort to avoid violating this simple premise, I am forced to acknowledge that in an activity that I love, I have reached a practical limitation.
I love to fish. For the past 50 or so years, I rarely passed on an opportunity to slather on sunscreen and hop in a boat for an hour, day or week of fishing. I have enjoyed the urgency of bass and crappie tournaments as well as the relaxed atmosphere of laughing and lying while simply catching a limit of freezer fare to get us through a winter. I have found that acquaintances share strengths while true friends share weaknesses and there is something cathartic about a day on the water with a trusted friend. In addition to the art of fishing, I also enjoy blasting across one of Missouri’s beautiful, often tree choked reservoirs in search of that perfect little niche or pocket far up a creek that may hold the fish of the day. Arguably, I am obsessed with a need for speed, and the marvel of today’s high performance bass boats is one way to assuage this passion. This passion, however, requires two functioning hands and feet. This is where the wheels are coming off. Let me explain.
I am plagued with inflammatory osteoarthritis. This malady is especially aggravating in both of my feet and hands, particularly my thumbs. To complicate things, I have a disc that is all but gone in my lower back. Launching and loading a bass boat requires some degree of dexterity, unless you enjoy ramp diving! Launching is not too bad, as your friend simply backs you down and you float off the trailer. Retrieving the boat requires not just driving onto the trailer, but hitching to the winch strap and cranking the boat onto the bow roller. After a day of teasing my thumbs with a rod and the intricate dance with one foot on the trolling motor pedestal, I am down for the count. These simple acts are further complicated by dropping and retrieving the trolling motor, dozens of times each trip. One thumb has been surgically corrected and the other is scheduled for late this year. Did I mention the pounding you take as you scoot across a choppy lake? Pain takes the fun out of just about anything…..
I am not complaining. Thankfully, I also love to stand in a trout stream and float a river or creek in a canoe! An occasional trip to a farm pond and a day of bank fishing is also rewarding. I am not giving up altogether, but it is time to sell my beloved bass boat, and at least some of the thousands of dollars in rods, tackle and equipment that are a part of the bass boat experience. (Amazingly, as I was bent over the live-well, retrieving fish, on the last day we were on Truman Lake, a very nice couple approached the boat to see our fish. They were in the market to buy a boat, and it appears they will soon have the opportunity to enjoy this boat as I have the last 8 years. They will not be disappointed.)
Limitations abound as we age. While I hope to catch a boat ride with a friend someday in the future, it won’t be at the helm, rather in the back of the boat, content to let someone else handle the piloting chores. When my hands and feet begin their chorus of “enough” I will be content to sit back and enjoy the sights and sound of the lake. Actually, I am okay with this limitation, as I have had many good years and great experiences in a boat. My task, at this point, is to keep old “Arthur” from placing yet another limitation on me…..such as the Harley. A good friend of mine also struggles with Arthur and his thumbs. We have discussed this affliction on a number of occasions. Try a day without your thumbs…..you will soon get the point here.
A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do. (I have no earthly idea who coined this saying.) I am steeling myself for the day, soon to come, when I watch my bass boat disappear from sight behind someone else’s tow vehicle…another chapter closed. A limitation realized. It won’t be easy…….