Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Talk

As fishing took over more and more of our lives we bought a canoe. (there are, by the way, two things you are certain to find used, at a reasonable price in Alaska: canoes, and snow blowers) As the non-fisher in the family I was all for it actually because there's not much fun sitting by the side of a river/stream/lake/ocean and watching your family cast for hours (particularly as I'm a complete fish hypocrite, and while I'm enthusiastic about cooking and eating them I'm totally wimpy about actually killing them. The kids stopped bringing me their salmon to admire because I always said 'isn't it gorgeous? Now why don't we just let it go...'). With the canoe we could get to the back of the lakes where the otters and beavers were playing, or float in the middle with the shark-like loon circling the boat and waiting for us to release the small trout.

We had a small inflatable boat as well, and we used to load the kids into that, then lash it to the canoe with a length of rope and tow them behind us as we paddled up six-mile lake on Elmendorf. This kept squabbling at a pleasant distance and, if they got too irritating, allowed the happy illusion that we could just cut through the rope and row away. I remember passing a mother duck being trailed by her brood of tiny fluffy ducklings and feeling a distinct sense of kinship.

Kirk liked to take the kids out fishing one at a time. They would take turns, loving the special daddy-time that was just theirs. They would come back with stories about the black bear they had to chase away from the car, or the crazed Canada goose who tried to make love to their hiking boots, but whatever the two of them talked about was usually kept private. Except once.

'I had The Talk with Child 1 today.' Kirk mentioned casually.

'The talk?'

'No, The Talk. THAT talk.'

'Oh.' Hmmmm... we hadn't even talked about this ourselves, about how to handle it. I remember my own mother who, when I casually asked (after listening to Christmas carols) what a virgin was blushed deep red and gave me a 30 minute technical explanation that left me convinced that either she didn't know herself, or it was something to do with politics which was the only other thing I could think of that was so utterly boring. 'Well... how did it go?'

'No problem. It asked a few questions so I just said "you know about the salmon, right? Well people do it on the inside." Seemed to satisfy it. I mean, we went into a bit more than that, but the fish covered the important stuff.'

Are there no life problems, he seemed to feel, that salmon cannot answer?

I know the lesson sank in though, because about a month later we took my parents fishing outside of Wasilla and Child 1 caught a huge male Chinook. 'Oh man!' it said loudly, with exasperation, 'it spermed on me!'

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Talk. Why does it always seem to involve water?

My mom trapped me in the bathroom while I was taking a bubble bath.