The day I’ve been waiting for

We were sitting at the kitchen table shelling peanuts and enjoying the salty taste, sipping on a “London Porter,” and reviewing the day’s successes after a pleasant afternoon of ice-fishing when he said, “The next time we go ice-fishing, I think we should go for trout.”
My heart leapt. I tried to contain my inner child-like glee because I’d been hoping he’d say that for weeks now.
I smiled big, my head bobbing back and forth in agreement, as I chomped on a mouthful of peanuts and swallowed hard so I could bounce back with, “That would be great. I’m game,” while trying not to give away my absolute enthusiasm at the prospect of landing a fighting machine—cousin to a salmon.
Immediately I pictured myself landing a record weight prize that would take me an hour to reel in. I would use every muscle I had to pull it through the ice hole. And maybe I’d have to cut a bigger hole just to get it out.
The trout would be so big, I wouldn’t be able to pick it up. Photographs of my catch would appear in newspapers across Northwestern Ontario and Minnesota.
My name would become a link in “Wikipedia” references to lake trout.
“But there’s only one catch,” added the smooth-talking outdoorsman.
I brushed off the cautionary tale I heard in his voice as he stroked his beard in contemplation.
I was too busy thinking about what kind of jig I was going to use to land that rod-snatching bulldog cheetah of freshwater that had convinced me was the ultimate challenge for this newborn ice-fisherwoman.
“The one catch is that we have to snowshoe two miles in to get to the lake I want to take you to,” he said, giving me that anticipatory raise of eyebrow and a smile I knew all too well.
I coughed up the peanut I inhaled in the realization of the price I was going to have to pay to get my trout. Suddenly, I wished I hadn’t written that column about the Snowshoe Olympics and my big, fat ego.
I had to fight back my “Yosemite Sam” impersonation that was surfacing as fast as that hooked fish I’d been dreaming about.
“Sure. I can do that,” I sputtered, switching gears in my head to rent workout videos so I could get in shape for the day when I would strap on beavertails and channel Dora Keen, Marion Randall Parsons, and Mary Jobe—my three pioneering outdoorswomen heroines—so that I could walk the walk.
A new website I’ve been put on to is www.thelostartofmanliness. I’m at the other end of the spectrum from manly and yet it’s a really great read.
I, too, can relate to the story within the story that speaks to memories of youth and gym class.
I dreaded gym class all the time. I loved exercise but I didn’t like gym suits, and I didn’t like fitness tests because I could never run as fast as Janelle or jump as high as Janelle.
She was the bomb. She got the gold. I got the “below bronze, participatory badge” for effort. Always.
But I will snowshoe the two miles. I will do whatever it takes to get to that lean, mean fighting machine that is swimming in those deep waters out there in a northern lake and has no idea who’s coming for him.
I win.