“…who burn the fires and who still till the earth…”
Dateline: Still Point Sebago, Lake Sebago, Maine.
They came from across the sea, and yet, to me, they say, Thank You.
This was a tough PICK, most of the team from Spain, does not speak English, I don’t speak a lick of Spanish, and some would say, English, and my great friend, the President of the Spanish team, Xavier Gonzalez-Mestre stayed back home in Spain to nurse his injured daughter back to health.
Haaby, as I call Xavier, had just one message, told to me by many folks in two different languages, and it was simply this, “Thank You.”
And frankly, I don’t know what he is thanking us for, we should be thanking him, bass fishing, from what I sort of understand from the Spanish team is not a big sport in Spain.
But Haaby, here’s what you are missing, when I write a sentence that has the words, “bass fishing,’ and “Spain” in it, we should be thanking you for bringing the sport to Europe.
To all of those B.A.S.S. clubs out there not in America, Thank You, for making this sport an international sport…the NFL may play some games overseas, but they ain’t got any teams there.
So, Haaby, a big time doctor in Spain, is helping his daughter, but in his stead is a young lady from Spain, the wife of one angler on the team, Victoria Gomez, who speaks some English tells me, “it took us 24 hours, you know, travelling to here from Barcelona to Madrid to Boston to Point Sebago.”
It took me four hours to drive here from Connecticut, and I complained. Going to have to take that back.
“Everyone on the team pays their own way to get here, and it’s hard, complicated for them.”
Them…Team Spain…are just like us, working stiffs, some work construction in Spain, there’s a computer dude, a lawyer, a college student, a couple self employed dudes, one who owns a club (Bar) over there.
A mirror of all of us, not from Spain.
Many of the team practiced here the last couple of days with volunteers from the Maine B.A.S.S. club, dudes not fishing the tournament, and last night Steve Wilson, the President of the Maine club, and my roommate here, told me, “Those guys from Spain, my guys who took them out told me they were very impressed, those dudes are sticks, they know exactly what they are doing and do it very well.”
Victoria: “To come here is, how you say, a dream that becomes real.”
Dreams, come, true.
“The feeling is happiness, all happy all day.”
I failed English 10 three times in high school, they didn’t allow me to ruin another language.
So verbal communication was tough, non-verbal, was easy. I never shot a photo of any member of Team Spain that didn’t have a smile in it, and here’s the last thing that Victoria said to me:
“Thank you so much, we would do anything to be here, and all of you do so much to make being here happy.”
“…let's drink to the hard working people…”
I do though, speak Canadian.
Both my Grandparents on my Mother’s side, came across the Niagara River to Buffalo, from Canada.
I spent many a summers on a farm in Cayuga, Ontario. Learned very young how to drive a tractor, feed the chickens, run from the pigs.
Pretty much raised there by my Grandmother, Tess, and her brother and sister-in-law, Uncle Jim and Aunt Irma Long. Some nights we would visit cousins at the neighboring farm and I would sleep in the same room that Tess was born in.
I haven’t been back since I was about 16, miss it dearly, and got pretty emotional when Team Canada emailed me out of the blue to tell me that on their arm each team member would be sporting the Tackle The Storm decal, I’d like to believe that in some small way that was a message from Tess and Uncle Jim and Aunt Irma sent my way.
Shout out here to Team New Hampshire who also is sporting a Tackle The Storm decal, weird to that when Barb and I got married some 40 years ago, our first real home for any length in time was in, Derry, New Hampshire.
Meet, Curtis Cronkwright, 34 years old, from Lakefield, Ontario, married 10 years now to Melissa, 2 young children, one of each, a musician and Educational Assistant who works with Special Needs students.
“I love it and the kids, you get the children at face value, they are who they are, they are not anybody else, no games.”
Curtis is a drummer who plays in many bands including the rhythm and blues band, Slips’n The High Fives. “I was educated in Jazz, Big Bands, but I play with Rock bands, Funk, Blues…”
And he lists several other genres of music that he plays, Jazz though seems to be his home with is favorite drummer being Jazz great, Bill Stewart.
“Being in a band helps me out here because any band is greater than the sum of its parts.”
A band, is team work, and who better to realize that than the drummer, the dude who keeps the beat that keeps every one together.
“I use music all the time to reach the children I work with, they love it.”
If on this planet there is a universal language I believe it to be, music.
On the dock today, during a fog delay, Jon Stewart, and his B.A.S.S. tournament crew, played music, some country, some rock, some I have no idea what it was, but off to the side, Jon, who used to be the lead singer of a college Rock’n Roll band, started playing the “air keyboards.”
As I watched him “play” on a dock behind him, a Canadian angler started tapping his foot, the next dock a dude from Maine started playing the “Air Guitar,” and standing next to him, Victoria from Spain started swaying to the beat.
Music, the bond, for all the parts.
“…let's drink to the salt of the earth…”
Meet, Colleen McKay, fishing for Team Massachusetts, single, and the only woman fishing this tournament.
I didn’t pick her because of her gender, I didn’t pick her at all, the President of the Massachusetts team did, “hey db, you should interview Colleen,” Chip shouted across the table at me, “Colleen McKay.”
“Dude, I know her, where is she…”
I first met Colleen when she fished the WBT trail (Women’s Bassmaster Tournament), a quiet lady, with a Boston accent, “Hi db, yeah I’m still at the University of Massachusetts Med School.”
Colleen is a researcher in the Psychiatry Department since 2000, “We are trying to figure out a way to improve services to those who need it. Just make it simpler to help people who need help.”
In 1999, “My boyfriend was really into bass fishing, he got me interested in it, never fished before, fell in love with bass fishing, left him, but not the sport.”
“I joined my first bass club to keep fishing, walked into a room full of 25 guys, thought, uh oh, but none of the guys ever gave me any trouble, were great help actually.”
Colleen, is now President of that local Bass club. Fishes 25 tournaments a year, came in third out of 28 recently, first year on the Massachusetts team.
Last night after I interviewed these three people I jumped in my truck, went into town to Mickey D’s for a professional sweet tea, sat in the drive-thru line playing some loud Rolling Stones when the song of this story started to play.
I was 5th or 6th in line, and I was just sitting there thinking of how I was going to write this story, when the song started, I smiled pretty much used to these signs from the universe, but I was also thinking, “How, this fish.”
How is it, a fish, can bring together people from different countries, languages, and sexes, people who compete in harmony, in respect, in peace.
Through a fish.
I watched as the car in front of me was handed a couple Happy Meals and some giant sodas, but I was thinking about the fish and the effect it has on folks, and how/why when finally the little car pulled away and as I moved up and my headlights lit up their bumper,
there was a fish,
And if you believe, believe.
And if wonder, wonder.
What is it, with this fish.
Editor's note: You can find the other parts of Pick 9! and other wonderful stories by db here.