Living Seasonally

The crisp crunch of leaves in the early rays of dawn, the rise of a brown trout as it’s dorsal fin crests the water, the infectious laughter of children as they careen down the sledding hill and the explosion of flavor from a cherry tomato popped into the mouth while tending the Summer garden.

Seasons come and go, and return once again in the dance of life.  “For everything there is a season…” as King Solomon once said.

While in the big picture, seasons of life refers to being a child, raising children and finally meeting ones Maker; I would like to speak about living seasonally within the context of a rotation of life throughout a year.  I share this with you as a concept of the good life, not as a template for you to necessarily follow – rather as a principle for you to interpret in the context of your own life.

My rotation starts on April 1st, April Fools Day, as I stand in a near-freezing WNY stream trying to trick a trout or two.  The afternoon is then given over to starting seeds for the coming year’s vegetable garden.  This inauguration of Spring begins the season of Fishing/Gardening, which will then dominate my “leisure time” throughout the coming months until October rolls around.

As September draws to a close, the season of Harvesting/Hunting begins.  The garden is preserved through freezing, dehydrating and root cellaring.  My beard begins to grow from a goatee to a full beard fit for bowhunting.  My leisure time is consumed by walking through the woods and climbing trees.  As the temperature drops below freezing, we slaughter and butcher a steer, a hog and whatever deer I was able to harvest.  By Christmas, our 3 deep freezers, pantry and root cellar is full to bursting (we raise about 30% of our fruits/vegetables and butcher about 90% of our own meat).  There is a wonderful sense of contentment that comes from having plenty from the works of our own hands…and a sense of the sacred act of eating and sharing a meal with friends.

As Winter locks us in, my heated woodshop becomes my place of creativity and respite.  Planes get sharpened, shavings are made and furniture is the by-product.  This past year, cutting boards, tea shelf, a canoe and a cherry homework table were on the list.  As the snow piles up outside, I listen to jazz, drink coffee and pile up sawdust.  Nothing is wasted: off-cuts become kindling for the wood fire, plane shavings become tinder for same and sawdust gets layered with kitchen scraps in 5-gallon buckets in the corner of the shop for next year’s garden.

Each year I cut a better dovetail, grow a better garden and walk more silently through the woods.  The balance of the familiar and constant change, of inside and out of doors, of growing and harvesting and of constant purpose for my “leisure time” brings joy, balance, health and a sense of constant discovery.

Is it easier to live life vicariously?  Where money is the only thing you make, spend and save?  Where your free time is consumed on a couch with a bag of chips?

NO!

Each day would be easier, but life itself would be far more difficult.  The meaninglessness of being bored while being constantly entertained is a much more trying life to live.  The tug of a trout, the thrill of the hunt, the taste of truly fresh food and daily using furniture I have made myself is a far more fulfilling life!Salmon_edit

Fishin’, not Catchin’

fishing on Pipestone Lake in Canada

fishing on Pipestone Lake in Canada

My son, Joshua's first fish

My son, Joshua’s first fish

One morning I got to  live out the old adage, “that’s why they call it fishin’, not catchin’”.  I awakened @ 5:00am, rolled out of bed, got all my tackle together and drove 17 minutes to my favorite spot for catching brown trout, after all it was opening day.

I arrived @ 5:40am to discover that it was way too dark to fish effectively with a spinner (panther martin 1/16 oz. holographic rainbow trout), so I got my waders on and waited in the driver’s seat while listening to country music (there’s no better fish-catchin’ tunes than country music), not until it got light enough to see, but just long enough to not be able to resist the urge to turn the headlights back on and start fishing!!

Unfortunately my last lure of my favorite type (see above) got hung up on the opposing bank within the first five minutes, and I had to fish the rest of the time with a far less savory type.

It was a steel-gray pre-dawn with snow/sleet piling up on my army jacket, and I had to leave by 7:10am to make it back in time to fix breakfast for the kids and get them to school.  there was time for just one more cast (thoughts of the previous year’s final fishing trip came boiling back up when a similar situation lead to a 16.5″ inch fish of beauty).  I made the perfect cast, to the perfect spot and reeled at the perfect speed…and wham!!!

My lure hit the eyelet at the tip of my fishing rod.

Driving home with my arthritic right hand held in front of the heat (it was pulsating in pain from the 32 degree cold it had endured), I realized something…I love fishin’!

Jesus told Peter, the most famous fisherman of all time, follow me and I will make you a fisher of men.  Peter did, and Jesus did.

Do you love fishing for men…you know telling others about Jesus?  Do you get all excited and roll out of bed too early, throw your stuff in the car and cast your story out there time and again eagerly anticipating the sudden tug on someone else’s heart that Jesus brings?  Sometimes you cast aggressively into the junk with a heavy, weedless jig for largemouth bass.  Sometimes you have to use a slow technique like a Carolina Rig or a Drop Shot to get the wary to commit.  Sometimes you throw a worm  and a bobber on and bring in one sunfish after another.

Sometimes you don’t catch…but that’s why it’s called “fishin’”.