PAT NEAL: My funny valentine

DO YOU BELIEVE in love at first sight?

I’m certain that it happens all the time.

All I know is what happened to me is when it happened to me, I didn’t waste time trying to overthink it.

As the poet said, fools give you reasons wise men never try.

She had pretty hair.

She had beautiful eyes like brown sausage patties floating in a limpid pool of country-style gravy.

She had these long eye lashes that almost looked like they were fake.

No, they were for real like the rest of her.

She was one of those that didn’t need a lot of fancy make-up or duds to look classy, which is a good thing when you’re going fishing in the rainforest in the middle of winter.

The water is cold as ice and the air is colder.

You have to have sense enough to dress properly for the weather.

When you see someone get in the boat with deck shoes and a windbreaker on a day the weatherman calls for showers with breezy conditions, you know you’re going to witness some human suffering on an epic scale.

She did not have that problem.

To be honest, she was wearing a fur coat.

Now, I know what some of you are going to say.

How fur clothing is bad, bad, bad — but save your breath.

The fact is, she looked darn good in it.

Fur has been used as an effective shield against the elements throughout the history of life on this planet and I can’t see what’s wrong with it if you come by it honestly, ethically and legally.

Maybe it gets a little heavy in a serious rainforest downpour, but all you have to do is shake it and it retains its waterproof properties a lot more comfortably than the chemical stew we use and excuse for modern raingear.

When you get right down to it, fur might be more environmentally responsible than all the breathable or rubber-coated junk you wear that just leaves you soaking wet after a rainstorm, anyway.

Still, even more important than having the appropriate wardrobe, you need to have the right attitude.

You need to have a good supply of patience to sit still long enough to listen to the guide’s excuses for not catching a fish.

We have many, from the stage of the moon to the height of the water to industrial man’s unconscionable exploitation of the diminishing natural resources of the planet — blah, blah, blah.

When you do eventually hook a fish — it happens — it’s also important not to get so excited and flighty you break it off in the confusion.

Sometimes, it’s a good idea to just sit and watch until you see what you have on the end of your line.

That she did.

She seemed to prefer to have me reel the fish in, which is cool.

I mean, however you enjoy the experience is up to you.

I am only the enabler that aids in the discovery of the hidden world beneath the water.

That is what makes me happy and happiness is what it is all about.

Unfortunately, happiness is not what it’s all about for some of the other busy bodies on the river.

People started asking questions like, where did you meet her?

Where did she come from?

Are you going to keep her?

Like it was any of their business.

Okay, so she was rescued from an animal shelter.

I couldn’t love her more if she had a pedigree as long as your arm.

I think she’s a keeper.


Pat Neal is a Hoh River fishing guide and “wilderness gossip columnist” whose column appears here every Wednesday.

He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or by email via patneal [email protected]

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