“Lean on me…”
Dateline: Waddington, N.Y.
“Land really is the best art.”
We are fishing within the brush strokes of Monet.
St. Lawrence River.
These are the paintings Monet saw when he closed his eyes.
To paint this land you need but three colors: Emerald Green, Sky Blue and wisps of white.
Touch lightly the canvas, green melts into blue that is framed by white linen clouds.
I will not take with me from this land the winning weight total.
I will not take from this land the size of the crowd at weigh-in.
I will take from this land, the size of the sky.
This city boy will take from this tournament the wonder of just looking straight up and seeing nothing, no buildings, no wires, no smog, seeing only what Monet saw, when he closed his eyes.
“…and I'll be your friend…”
“db, we are blessed….”
It is Monday, the day my Elite tourney roommates, Shaw Grigsby and Paul Elias, take the time out to have dinner together.
They sit across the table from me and talk about things I can’t talk about here.
Talk bait, areas, patterns, strategy, spawn, not spawn, ledges, deep, now frankly I’m not sure they care if I tell YOU what they said, but it’s the “others” they are worried about.
“Others,” being the 100-or-so other Elite anglers who may suddenly become big readers of my columns…especially on Tuesday.
Here’s the deal, at some point Paul and Shaw talk about stuff I can write down, I pay for dinner, they thank me, I come back and write the story.
There you go, truth in Journalism.
For the IRS…this story cost me two Fried Perch dinners and a couple of beers.
“…we are so blessed because of where we get to work, driving here I was following Paul and I started looking around and couldn’t believe the mountains, the crystal clear lakes, the forests and ravines, downright blessed.”
Me: (technically Google) “Shaw man the Adirondack National Park is like 6 million acres, that’s bigger than the entire state of Massachusetts, in fact, get this, you know about Glacier National Forest, Yosemite, the Great Smokey Mountains, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon National Parks…”
Me/Google: “Well you could take all, ALL, those national parks and fit them inside the Adirondack National Park, and have some room to spare.”
With that Shaw actually stopped eating for a minute which in fact was to Paul and I a much bigger miracle than the geography lesson me and Google just spouted out.
“…I'll help you carry on…”
“dee, Shaw and I once fished this river together in a tournament back in the ‘80s or ‘90s.”
Even though I pretty much go by two letters a “d” and just a “b,” Paul Elias, a normally quiet man of few words has shortened my name to just ONE letter, “d.”
Shaw: “dee, you should have been here, I’m driving the boat, we launch and the weather is brutal, waves are crazy, so as Paul and I are going down the river we see all these other competitors boats turning around and coming back to the launch…”
Paul sitting next to him and across from me starts laughing…
“…I’ve got my boat almost straight up trying to chug up and down the waves, as the other boats pass me I’m yelling at the guys, “hey sissies,” calling them all sorts of names…”
Paul is now giggling…
“…so we are chugging along and suddenly this huge wave comes crashing right over the bow, almost swallows us up and I suddenly spin that boat around so fast and head back…”
Paul now has his head down just shaking it back and forth…
“…and Paul is sitting over there in the passenger seat and all he says to me is this, ‘Buddy we get back on shore you better apologize to all those other anglers you were calling names out there.’”
And both Paul and Shaw slap each other on the arm and bust out laughing.
Shaw: “I told Paul, you go no matter what, we’re like the postman.”
“…you just call on me brother.”
Paul: “You know dee speaking of the beauty around here, got to tell you something, I’ve fished the Potomac dozens of times, and, and you know what, never once did I take the time to go see Washington, never in my life have I seen the Washington Monument.”
Shaw: “We are usually in such a rush to get to the next event, the next place, that we never take the time to look around, we see this country pretty much only Interstate exit by exit.”
Paul: “America from behind the steering wheel is a lot different than standing in it looking around and visiting. I’ve driven cross country so many times with this sport that I can’t count but never once have I ever stopped to see the Grand Canyon, never once.”
Shaw: “It’s such a great change coming up here, I love it, love the New York fisheries, today I’m out on the river and an Eagle flies overhead…”
Paul: “…the water is so blue, I never get over that, blue and clear sometimes it seems the river and the sky melt together.”
We ate, we talked, said cheers to this or that, and then suddenly as we were talking about the natural beauty around us…the table went quiet.
“…when you need a hand…”
Paul: “I’ve told myself to slow down and enjoy all this but…”
Shaw: “…I know the but…”
Shaw: “I so wish my wife Polly was with me to see all of this…”
Paul: “My Kristy as well…”
Paul is 64.
Shaw is 60.
We all three are deeply in love with our wives, we all three know that we leave our best friends, Polly, Kristy, Barb, back home.
Me: “When we are dead it’s going to be hard to do all the stuff we said we would do, and didn’t.”
Kristy’s dad just recently passed away, she’s home dealing with it, I know where Paul’s mind is, we’ve talked about it many times, after this tournament he may drive several days home to Mississippi just to spend a day with her before heading back up North to Maryland.
Shaw has had one heart attack, had a couple off-season surgeries on shoulders, elbows, a knee…I know where Polly’s mind is when she is in Florida and he is here.
At the end of this five week gig trip I’m on when I come back home I’m facing going into the hospital to have a bunch of serious tests run…I know where Barb’s mind is when she is in Connecticut, and I’m not.
Silence at the table once again.
Then Shaw, “We need to bring our wives out here, they are all friends, they know each other, WE HAVE GOT TO DO THAT.”
Then, almost at the exact same time, all three of us said this: “We want them to see what we see, we want them to see the beauty around us, with us.”
And Barb, babe…ladies…this is what we want you to see:
Paul, Shaw & “dee”
“…we all need somebody to lean on.”
Lean On Me
“Time is long, but life is short.”