Sunday, July 21, 2019

Fishing With Tom

My brother Eddie glanced over from the passenger seat.

"You think I'm going to buy a stinking licence so I can fish for, what? 15 minutes once a year? Hah."

FISHING WITH ED: Everything we learned about the
sport, we learned from Tom.
He and I were two hours south of the cabin where we were meeting our two older brothers, Alex and Tom, for the fourth--and as it turns out final--"Carter Brothers' Annual Fishing Getaway."*

It was a summer Friday afternoon. Almost 20 years ago. In the context of the time, Eddie's comment was neither controversial nor surprising. Fact one: It was a new thing. For most of our lives up to that point, Ontario residents didn't need fishing licences. It just seemed a weird thing to have to think about.

Fact two: Ed's a realist. He knew, from a lifetime of fishing with Tom, the likelihood of engaging in any activity resembling fishing (much less catching an actual fish) was less than zero.

Me, I had my licence, but it might have been expired. I was pretty certain Alex's was legal and up to date. Turns out he thought so too. (This is an important detail to remember for later in the story when John Law shows up.)

Tom was carrying a licence, but it belonged to his son Hugh. Tom was not trying to trick anyone. Hugh at the time lived in Toronto and had renewed his licence but it had been mailed to his parents' home back in Elliot Lake. Tom was going to give me the licence to deliver to Hugh. I'm thinking Tom didn't have a licence of his own because he knew he wouldn't be fishing.

Ed, Tom, Alex and I arrived at the cabin just past suppertime Friday. Too late to fish.

CRIME SCENE: An artist's rendering (I did the drawing.)
So we had a few beer around the campfire and bragged about our nephews and nieces.

Next morning, I was out in the canoe, sort of fishing.

I was most likely not wearing a life jacket. And assuming I wouldn't need it because never in my life had I been asked to produce a fishing licence, I had left mine in my jean jacket pocket, back at camp.

I saw a small motorboat headed my way and knew immediately: Conservation officers.

They greeted me politely and asked where I was from and if I had a fishing permit. I said I did but it was back at camp. They said we'd go have a look see.

"Meet you back at your dock" they said.

For some reason, they didn't head directly to our camp, but headed across the river. I paddled as fast as I could and saw Ed fishing off the dock.

I yelled something like "Ed please go get my jacket so I can show the conservation officers my FISHING LICENCE!"

From then on, my memory's a little foggy. (The following play-by-play is a close approximation of what happened.)

Ed went up to the cabin to fetch my licence and Alex.

I pulled up to the dock; the COs arrived moments later, Ed and Alex came to the dock.

Tom, the wisest of the Carter brothers, stayed put 20 yards away, up beside the campfire.

I handed the COs my expired permit hoping for lenience, and Ed, when asked, handed over a piece of official-looking paper.

Meantime, Alex was happy that he was legit and proud that he had a licence but then the COs took him by surprise and told him it was expired. They told me mine was too and then said, "Tom what's your year of birth?"

That's not a mistake.

The conservation officer said "Tom, what's your year of birth?"

I didn't know why he was asking but figured Tom hadn't heard so I helpfully yelled "Tom! What year were you born?"

If Tom answered, I forget what he said.

But then it occured to me.

My nephew Hugh's name is actually Thomas Christopher Hugh and the CO was directing the question at Ed, who had handed him a fishing licence that said he was born in 1978, the year of Hugh's birth.

We all, save Tom, got busted.

It could have been a lot worse.

If the CO's wanted to, they could have confiscated our canoe and cars, but instead they leniently they just took our rods and reels and issued us a bunch of tickets for various infractions.

Our fishing weekend over, we packed up to head home.

Last thing I rememember was one of my brothers saying "Pete if you sell a story about this, I'm coming to your house and taking the money."

Something just occurred to me. Over the past however many years I've been alive, I learned a lot of really important life lessons while on fishing trips with Tom. I think I'm going to blog about a few more of them, soon.

Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime. Send a man out fishing with Tom, and you just never know. Stay tuned.

* No fish were harmed in the production of any of these expeditions.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Bike Club

You might have noticed that when motorcyclists pass each other going in opposite directions, the riders often wave. A tiny flick of the left wrist. 
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD NERDS: Cool-running Pete,
biking to accordion school

You've also probably asked yourself, "Why do they do that? What's it mean?"

I am not allowed to tell you. The answer is a secret. 

However, just so you won't feel you've wasted your time reading this far*, I shall share the following bikers' wave lore...

When I was a younger man, I thought it was uncool to wave. If somebody went zooming past and raised his or her left hand, far be it from Joe Cool here to acknowledge it. 

I got older.

I realized how spiritually demoralizing it must be to wave and not get waved back at. It'd be like moving in for a high-five but the other person not reacting. So now I wave.

I also kinda feel really bad for all those riders over the years who gave me the wave but didn't get a response. I guess this is my public apology.  (I feel like a politician.) 

Another thing? 

We've been known to wave to other oncoming bikers even when there's eight lanes of traffic between us. Seriously. I found myself doing it on the Don Valley Parkway en route to work this week. I was in the shoulder lane heading north and I exchanged waves with a biker in the shoulder lane headed south.

VROOM WITH A VIEW: Friday 13th's Port Dover's lucky day. (I swiped this
London Free Press photo off Google.)
Which reminds me of my friend Malcolm Roberton. 

When Malcolm atttended our wedding 30-odd years ago, he had a new female acquaintance with him.I asked how they met. 

Days earlier, he said, he had been walking east past Toronto's Royal York Hotel when this woman exited Union Station across the street and their eyes met. 

For those who've never been to Toronto, Front Street separating Union Station from the Royal York is about as wide as the Champs Elysees. 

I said exactly that to Malcolm. He grinned and said, "I know, eh?"

Malcolm also once told me his favourite movies were the kind you'd enjoy even if you were blind or deaf. This blog would probably be more interesting if I wrote about Malcolm instead of adult strangers on toys waving at each other, but I digress. 

You have to know we don't wave or nod to any vehicles that aren't motorcycles. If you do drive a Vespa or an e-bike or a three-wheeled jobbie and if a motorcyclist waved at you, it was an honest mistake. The sun was probably in their eyes. Don't let it go to your head.  

STASH IN PLAIN SIGHT: What do they do?
Wiggle their curly do's at one another? 
I just thought of something else.

I could probably win a place in the Guiness Book of Records for most waves in a single day. 

Here's why. 

There's a town not far from Toronto called Port Dover and for some reason, every Friday 13th in riding season, thousands of  bikers roar into the town for a day of -- I'm not sure what because I've never been. 

Last July the cops estimated 140,000 bikes showed up in Dover! That's 280,000 separate wheels! I did the math!

A couple of years ago right around suppertime, I had reason to be riding south on highway six in the direction of  Port Dover. It was at the exact time the Dover visitors were starting to head home. 

It was like riding headfirst into a swarm of one-eyed firefly monsters with huge chrome handlebar moustaches.

They only had me to wave at.

Meantime my left hand was, like, "UP down. UP down. UP down...."  Probably a few hundred times.

My wrists must have thought I was riding a parade float. I know I felt like a dork.

Speaking of big chrome moustaches, when my daughter Ria and I were at Burning Man a few years back she asked a chap with a handlebar moustache if similarly whisker'd guys exchange some sort of secret acknowledgement when they pass on the sidwalk.

He said they do. Can you believe it? How silly.

(*Wasted valuable time reading Pete's Blog&Grille? Thats Unpossible! hahaahahahaaha)