“If you want to go fishing, you have to bait your own hook.” This is what my Daddy told me when I was 7 years old.  I didn’t particularly like fishing, but I wanted to be with him.  Oh, it was always fun at first – the ride in the boat with the high-pitch buzz of the motor and the sight of the water parting and spraying along the sides as we traveled forward. There was the excitement (and fear) of pinning the wiggly cricket on your hook and casting the line. 

But then, I had to sit still and be quiet. I had to be quiet forever. After awhile, the sun would beat down on my head and my pole would get heavy. And I’d be sooo hungry that I’d eat my little can of Vienna sausages and most of the wax packet of saltine crackers about an hour after we left the dock.

I never caught much because I didn’t keep my line in the water long enough. I liked casting the line and then reeling it in. And talking. A little chatterbox is guaranteed a captive audience for all her questions and declarations while on a boat! I was just drowning crickets mostly.

I realize now, that my Father not only had incredible patience, but that he must have really loved me a lot. He enjoyed fishing, hunting, camping, horses, and motorcyles. And though he may not have been aware of it, by including me (a little girl) on these adventures, he showed me that I was strong and that I could be brave. And that what I said and thought mattered.
He not only created good memories, he was “building” a future adult. My love of nature is one part of me that was made by him.
When we love something we are motivated to protect it. That’s true for people and that’s true for places. Love is connected to nature just as nature is connected to us. Earth gives us air, food, water and shelter. Earth gives us beauty and happiness. What do we give the Earth in return?
Like an indulgent parent, the Earth has let us (her children) get by with bad behavior and selfish actions.  She has overlooked our mistakes because we were young and still learning.  But now, we have reached the point where we can no longer claim innocence as our defense. We know better. Now, we have to DO better.
Brigham City, Utah
We can correct our mistakes . Back in 1903 when settlers moved into the Bear River valley in Northern Utah and Southern Idaho they diverted water from the river to their towns and farms causing the marshes to dry out. Eventually, less than four thousand acres of the original forty-five thousand were left. The loss of these wetlands caused a massive number of birds to die. The public was shocked and took action by making the Bear River delta a National Wildlife Refuge in 1928.
Dead birds – Bear River 1928

Dikes and water control structures were built, laws were passed and the habitat recovered and began supporting millions of birds. Of course this didn’t happen overnight, there were many set-backs and lots of volunteers and supporters were needed. Today the area is flourishing as it celebrates its 84th birthday!

What this shows us is that humanity can destroy nature in an instant – and that it takes decades of persistent effort to recover from such destruction. But, it can be done.  If we are going to fish, we have to be able and willing to bait our own hook.  Our Daddy is not going to do it for us.

 Bitter Lake
But for all its gesture
to the wild, nothing
comes more human
than this: “refuge,”
an oblong of mercy sliced
from the map.
Where hosts and dominions
of snow geese
billow and gleam
by water’s edge,
I think of Lear, dead
Cordelia in his arms.
– William Wenthe
Books on this subject – available at Chesapeake Public Library System

The World According to Pimm by Stuart Pimm

Thought to Exist in the Wild by Derrick Jensen

Rewilding the World by Caroline Fraser



Born to read, forced to work.

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