Andy Dear | Sunday, 17 March 2019
Every now and again I have strange little insights about the peripheral experiences of fishing, and the effects they have had on my adult life. Most recently it was a random epiphany about the role that "Gates" had on me as a young man. I know that sounds a bit strange, but bear with me....there are deeper metaphors and meanings here.
Here in Texas, the majority of the land is privately owned and often used for purposes other than fishing and hunting. The most common of which would be raising cattle. I was very fortunate in that my dad had numerous friends that had large parcels of land that we were given virtually unlimited access to for the purpose of fishing and hunting. That access, however, came with a certain responsibility, and that was making sure that the gates to certain sections of the property were closed and locked with the proper integrity. This was mainly to make sure that the livestock didn't breach the opening to other parts of the land, or worse, escape altogether. Now I know that this may not sound like a big deal, and as an adult, it probably isn't something most of us would give a second thought to. As a young man though, being tasked with the responsibility for the well being of tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of livestock, not to mention maintaining the landowner's trust to ensure future fishing trips was a HUGE responsibility. It is one that to this day when someone has given me the privilege of using their property, I do NOT take lightly.
It's hard to say how many gates I've opened and closed over the years on the way to a hunting or fishing spot. The common thing they all shared was that everyone one of them came with a level of trust on the part of the landowner that instilled in me a sense of integrity and responsibility. But it wouldn't be until later in life that I put the correlation together....interesting how "maturity" does that to a person.
My son started his initiation into being responsible for our own gate when he was 7. We are very fortunate in that our current residence is in a very isolated, rural area. He's been on gate detail twice daily for the better part of four years now. It's always interesting to watch his friends who live in the city react to him opening a gate in the dark. They are terrified of the idea of getting out of the safety of a car in complete darkness, in the middle of the wilderness to open a gate....it scares them to death. It's a reaction that honestly makes me sad because he and I know what's behind the gate. Every time I witness this reaction it reaffirms my assertion that the world would be a whole lot better off with a lot less late night Nintendo Switch sessions, and whole lot more dawn patrol fishing expeditions with multiple gates to tend to.
I'd like to sit here and tell you that my old man had some keen insight on the relationship between proper closing and locking of a gate, and how it develops responsibility, accountability, development of trust and attention to detail. However, I think he just wanted to sit in the truck and drink coffee at 5am where it was warm and cozy, while the grunt (me) got out and did the dirty work. Truth be known it was probably both, and that is absolutely the way it should be. I can tell you that when my son was old enough for me to pass the torch of "gate detail" over to him, it was a satisfying feeling knowing that it will develop traits that will serve him well later in life. Equally satisfying is the enjoyment I get out of sitting in the truck drinking hot coffee while he whines and moans about having to get out and open the gate at 5am.
Have a great week!