Tag Archives: surf

Best of All He Loved the Fall

Hemingway's Grave.
Blood from scraped knuckles digging up Hemingway’s grave in Idaho in 2010.

In today’s world, we’re inundated with the emotions, and everyday thoughts, of almost everyone in our “social network,” which is becoming a term that’s less and less clearly defined.

As August fades into September, we’re bound to see those people who are mourning summer’s end. Kids will shuffle back to the bus stops, the sunsets will come a little earlier every day.

One of my favorite passages that I’ve ever read came from a eulogy that Ernest Hemingway gave for a friend, Gene Van Guilder. Everything that Hemingway has ever said or written has been analyzed to death, and this one is no exception. Some scholars speculate that the words that he spoke were ones that he intended as much for himself as he did the late Van Guilder. Hemingway was only 40 at the time he delivered the eulogy. He still had a Nobel and Pulitzer-Prize winning novel to write (The Old Man and the Sea). He still had a plane crash to survive in 1954, a crash that some have speculated caused him a pain that made writing (the one constant throughout his life) more difficult to do than it was ordinarily for him.

He still had marlin to chase in the Gulf Stream, lions to hunt in Africa and characters and places to immortalize with words.

But there is an underlying sense both of hope and enormous, perhaps even insurmountable, struggle in almost everything Hemingway has written. The one defines, and necessitates, the other.

What made him, in my opinion, such an important, memorable and significant writer in American history was his ability to have a feeling for what defined masculinity, strength and courage, all without losing his sensitivity to the simple, yet beautiful parts of life that hide in the details.

I don’t know that there’s a passage of his that combines those two elements better than his words for Van Guilder did, and as we head down the home stretch of summer, I thought I’d share them with those of you who haven’t already found them yourselves:

“Best of all he loved the fall… The fall with the tawny and grey, leaves yellow on the cottonwoods, leaves floating on the trout streams, and above the hills the high blue windless skies. He loved to shoot, and he loved to ride and he loved to fish.”

Fishing Friendships: A Line Never Broken

11312723_10102343375693176_9203714639228523213_o
Curt Dircks and I intercepted a bluefish blitz off Fire Island in 2012.

I was talking with an old friend, a former college roommate from Syracuse University, and we were setting up our annual striper fishing trip for the spring. Every year, since 2004 when we met and later became friends and then roommates, we’ve made an annual spring and/or fall pilgrimage to Fire Island, a barrier Island south of Long Island where his family has a small cabin.

As we tentatively penciled in this year’s Spring trip, I got to thinking about the strength of friendships built on or around the water.

When you’re a teenager, or in your early 20s, you make more friends than you might for the rest of your life combined. Whether it’s all the new people you meet as an undergraduate, high school friends you stay in touch with, or those first people that help you on your career path… it’s a time when you meet people you’ll remember forever.

I was lucky to be born into a large Irish Catholic family, and my cousins back in Upstate New York are some of my oldest fishing friends. Joe Critelli, two years my junior, dutifully helped me load our Pond Prowler into my first used Dodge pickup to explore ponds all over Upstate New York. Everett Lockwood, only a month younger than me, would spend summers on Cape Cod with me tracking striped bass and bluefish when the tide was right and using that same Pond Prowler on as many Cape ponds as we could. Joe’s younger brother, Chris, three years younger than I, got the road-trip gene and has traveled via motorhome throughout much of the lower 48, but I was able to catch up with him on the first Catch a Cure, and we’re never too far apart to remember some hilarious anecdote that usually involved teenaged stupidity or overconfidence.

Our lives diverged on different paths (congratulations again to Everett Lockwood, now a husband), but we’re never too far apart or too busy to share a fishing picture, a story, or a memory. There’s an almost endless number of stories that could finish the ones that start: “How bout that time we…”

I even found a fisherman at Emerson. Classmate James Spica was kind enough to invite me down to South Carolina and hook me up with a guide that put me on my largest redfish of all-time.

But as we penciled in this year’s striper trip, I couldn’t help but think of how powerful fishing is in keeping friends together through anything that life throws at them. It’s been eight years since I graduated from Syracuse University, and I’ve worked in New York City as an intern for Field & Stream, at On The Water as an editor, traveled the country blogging for Outdoor Life, worked from Florida as a full-time content creator for a website, traveled the coast fighting melanoma for both Game & Fish and B.A.S.S.  and now I’m back in the Northeast, in Boston, finishing my Master’s Degree at Emerson. Curt has lived in New Jersey, New York City and even San Diego.

And we might not be in touch on a daily basis, sometimes we won’t see one another for months or even a year… but when the spring rolls around, we set up the annual trip. Making plans this year I was reminded of how profoundly important fishing is in our lives, and for so many reasons.