"Sail on silvergirl,
Sail on by.
Your time has come to shine ..."
Anger floats in the river.
Ten floors below me, I can see it.
The Red River in Shreveport, La., has not come to play.
It has come to take away.
It has taken leaves.
It has taken branches.
It has taken trees from Arkansas and brought them here.
The Red River is now vanilla latte brown. I can see cream colored whirlpools where the universe stuck the wooden stir stick in.
I am ten floors above it, but still moved.
I am ten floors above it, but still in awe.
I am ten floors above it, but still afraid.
I am in a cocoon of cement and glass, sand in the wind compared to what's ten floors below.
Ten floors below is the blood of this planet we all lease.
Ten floors below is the stuff of life.
We send rockets into the universe looking for this stuff. And yet, there it is. Ten floors below.
It has given us life, and it can take it back. And does. Comes troubled water from the rivers, from the oceans, from the sky.
Comes troubled water to this field of play.
When you're weary ...
When I interview you, I never watch your mouth, even though its words I'm looking for.
I watch your eyes.
Your eyes tell me when I should be taking notes.
I take notes when your eyes get all twitchy. I take notes when you rub your eyes while talking to me. I take notes when your eyes get to wandering and not looking at me while your mouth is still pointed my way.
I take notes in CAPITALS when your eyes are behind glasses and you take those glasses off to tell me something.
And if you go to shaking those glasses to make a point, I put quote marks around the notes in CAPITALS.
In the bait aisle I was taking notes. In Capitals.
This serious looking guy, Richard Brontoli, the Executive Director of the Red River Valley Association, just got up in front of the ladies of the WBT and told them why they would not be fishing the Red River like they drove here to do.
It was classic gobbledygook.
I got none of it.
So I tracked the dude down in the bait aisle, and said something akin to this: "Ummm ... so ... ummm ... you know ... any chance I can get the dummy version of whatever it was you just said back there?"
Off came his glasses. Guy's dealt with reporters before. Hands me his business card. I like him right away ... less note taking.
And he tells me this:
"On Sept. 30 the river was 19.2 feet on the gauge. Today it measured 30 FEET."
The bank you were practice fishing on ... is now almost 11 feet ELSEWHERE.
"The river has also went from 40,000 CFS (Cubic Feet Per Second) to 150,000 CFS today."
If 150,000 doesn't have a dollar sign in front of it, I always assume it to be bad. It was.
"The water is now 2 feet OVER the dikes, the buoys put out there to keep you off the dikes are now UNDER WATER as well ... you have no idea where to run, the channels, the safe channels to run in ... are gone."
At that point, I took my glasses off.
Sail On ...
If you are the best at what you do it shouldn't matter where you do it.
Trust me, Lebron is just as great on the playgrounds as he is on center court.
If an apple falls out of the sidewalk display in N.Y., Jeter will stop it before it ever hits the gutter.
Tiger Woods will take your lunch money at Putt-Putt.
Richard Petty never loses a parking spot race.
If you are put on this planet to do what it is you do, THE PLANET IS YOUR FIELD OF PLAY.
The best take adversity, and make jewelry out of it.
When the pinnacle is reached, banners are hung.
And ten floors below me, the angry Red River knows this, which is why it has changed the WBT Championship field of play.
It has leveled the field of play.
This championship will begin where it belongs.
This championship begins with Game 7.
Everyone, even up.
No last week.
No last season.
There is only now.
On your mark, get set, GO!
And on this day, 20 of the best women pro anglers in the world will take to a new body of water, and prove they belong, anywhere, any place.
Not a one I talked to seemed freaked out about the change of the field of play ... it's water ... it's bass ... let's do it.
In a championship locker room there is a lot of hootin' and hollerin', and cheap champaign. In the middle of the room the owner hands the hardware around, the coach always looks surprised, the MVP always looks for a bigger contract.
But in the corners, that's where you find the best interviews. Quiet champions are the most profound.
And Judy Wong is a quiet champion. Backstage is her center stage. Off to the side, pull up a locker room stool, and lean in and listen.
Wisdom in a whisper:
Judy: "I think this is great. I prefer it this way, this move to a new body of water. It means I will get to use the knowledge I've gained in a lifetime of fishing."
Then she said what Tiger Woods would say.
What Tom Brady would say.
What Mickey Mantle would say.
"This, this will make us all better."
The Red River took nothing from the ladies of the WBT Championship.
The Red River brought with its leaves, branches and trees something else.
The life blood of the planet brought with it ... LIFE.
Grab it, shake it, live it.
Ladies, once in a lifetime has just come downstream.
"All your dreams are on their way.
See how they shine."
Bridge Over Troubled Water
Simon & Garfunkel
Don Barone is an award-winning outdoors writer and a member of the New England Outdoor Writers Association and the Outdoor Writers Guild of the U.K. You can reach db at www.donbaroneoutdoors.com.