Monday, February 14, 2011

Oh----- to be eleven.

Could there be anything cooler?....for an eleven year old boy?

Working with your dad, and dad's friend, on a commercial fishing boat
in the mighty Columbia River in Oregon.

More boats have capsized in this stretch of the river than any other river mouth on the coasts of North and South America.

Nothing is more exciting to an eleven year old boy than the sense of adventure
and purpose.

And this eleven year old boy is named Hunter Brady.

Hunter stands about four feet tall and about 3 feet wide.
He eats like every other average boy.
But he just has a few extra pounds.
He's a cute kid....full of life and ideas.
He doesn't really fit in.
Most children in the 3rd grade are at home making valentines cards for their class.
And Hunter is, unfortunately, very aware that school is taking from his valuable
fishing time.

Yes, it was raining,
Yes, it was a long day with a lot of hard work.
Pulling hundreds of yards of net, made of fishing line, out of wooden storage boxes....and spreading
them out on the ground to hand stitch up all the holes----with a big needle and a lot of fishing line.

The wind was blowing 45 knots from the South today.
And it rained over 2 inches in only 4 hours.
Even here, that is a lot of rain.

The 45mph wind speed, of course, meant that the rain hit you at 45 miles an hour....all day long.
Every hair on my head was soaked with rain's glory.

And if not for the warm rubber boots on my feet I would surely have been complaining endlessly about the

For eight hours that little eleven year old boy stood out in that rain with me.
I repaired nets and he told me stories of how great 'the
catch' was going to be THIS year.

Hunter looked up at me with intense poise to ask a weighty question.

His deliberate eyes widened as he quizzed me...
"Scott, aren't you RRREALLY excited to go fishing today?"

He asked in a way that was questioning---and yet I could tell he would be startled if any person answered "no".

I recognized his passion and had no desire to put it out.
So I responded with encouragement.
"I will be SO excited when we finish all our work and have that net soaking in the water Hunter"

He was satisfied---he smiled---chuckled---and asked me what should be his next job?
"Ok, so what do you want me to do now?!" he asked with urgency.

"Hold that net up right there" I motioned. "If you hold that
up I can see it better to stitch it faster.
And I know...I am cold and shaking too....but we are ALMOST DONE"


3 hours later we were all set.
It was now almost dark.
6 pm, in Astoria, Oregon.
My body drenched but now covered in heavy rubber rain gear we wear while we fish.

The 6000 lb boat was hitched to my Chevy truck and I was ready to take it to the water.

Hunter's father, Jon Brady, is my fishing partner.
Jon works the boat any hours I don't work----which is generally 6pm to 6am----the graveyard shift.

Hunter rarely gets to go with his father because of an issue he sarcastically
describes as
'this little thing called school'.

At school Hunter dreams, draws, reflects, and contemplates, on commercial harvest fishing all day long.

What little boy would not?

He tells me of the classroom in which he can see our boats out on the water...and how he really wants to skip
school ----but he won't.

He won't because I told him that fisherman are always learning.
And if you can't 'do school' then you are not a fisherman I want on my boat.

Hunter jumped in my truck....slammed the door....and rejoiced.
"YES!! I got the door shut right this time."

I tell him to put his seat belt on and he immediately agrees.

And then he apologizes.
"I am sorry I broke your rear view mirror when I was climbing around in the truck earlier"

I smiled and responded.

"No problem Hunter, it's all in the name of passion for your job."

His pride in his work welled up in his entire being.
He straightened up his posture and turned to look out the back window of the truck.

He kept a sharp eye on the precious cargo ...watching the 6000 pound boat we were pulling.
What 11 year old boy would NOT be excited?

"Scott, I will jump out and direct you when you back the boat into the bay ok?"

"It's a deal" I said " you broke the mirror so now you will be my mirror"

He laughed....and sat smiling....eyes alive with excitement.....conjuring up the next exciting thing to say.

And then he turned to me.
"Scott" He said intensely "I know you weren't excited when we were fixing net in the rain....
....NOW are you excited ?"


We all need to take a little of Hunter's passion and distribute it into everything we do.

Because unless we be like a little child, we really cannot understand all of the blessings
we possess.

And unless we find enjoyment in seeking and learning, as a child, we can not expect
to ever find the truth.


Windshield wipers wiping as fast as possible.
Windows still a bit fogged up.

Hunter outside yelling
"left a little"
"ok now bring it right a little"

As I backed up the truck to drop the boat in the bay the dock owner ran toward my truck yelling.

I was surrounded by the loud noise of the truck engine, mixed with Hunter's high pitched commanding
voice trying to direct my navigation.

And in the distance came a lady yelling,

"60 mile per hour winds tonight.... you will have to pull it out"

I stopped backing up to more clearly hear her.

"Scott the winds are supposed to be worse tonight than last night"

My attention grew close to Cheryl's words because last night the winds were truly severe.

"Scott if you put in you will have to pull the boat out again tonight because we are not letting boats tie
up to the dock all's just going to be too rough"

Anticipating Hunter's disappointment I looked for him in my rear view mirror.

His face, obviously disappointed, also expressed concern.
He tried to run up to the window of my truck but it only resulted in a fast waddle---his short legs
could only move so fast.

Again---with deliberate eyes---he questioned me.

"Scott I am excited but it's gonna be rough tonight...and we don't want to get in trouble out there right?"

I could not help but be happy.
Hunter was so excited.....
But not just to catch fish...
Not just to be in a truck pulling a 6000 pound boat down the road.
And it wasn't even the idea of being a mighty fisherman.

What excited Hunter was the fact that we was really 'doing something important'.

I told him we would wrap it up for the day and get back on the water when the storm passes.

He smiled and said...
"yeah I am probably the only kid working in this whole county....but it's ok to take a night off"


He was visibly afraid.

But I also knew
that if I told him we were going anyway............he surely would have gone out on that rough water with me.


Oh.... to be eleven.
Fresh mind---fresh life ahead.

Never stop learning.

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