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A Tale of Two Weekends

From False Creek to a secret lake in northern Ontario . . .
20220710-walleye-Bill walton
Photo submitted.

Thanks to the excellent coverage by local media, many will have heard that the Warriors of Hope won Gold at the Vancouver Dragon Boat Festival, proving once again that there can be an active life after breast cancer. Still coming down from that ‘high,’ I went fishing with the guys. Had the internet service been down during the fishing expedition, I would not have even noticed it. It was, however, really essential for us at the Festival. How else to order an Uber ride or spread the news to friends back in North Bay?

I barely had time between trips to check my tackle box once more, replenish my shaving gear (my kit was in my Vancouver luggage which was temporarily lost, misplaced, abandoned in a heap of unclaimed luggage at Pearson, and then brought home to me by another Warrior who recognized my bag and surreptitiously claimed it as her own), time only to check the local news for anymore candidates for mayor, and forget to pack my rainsuit.

About the luggage, cancelled and delayed flights: none of the Warriors complained too much, I supposed because like me, they were still wound up by the weekend in Vancouver. Truthfully, the airline and airport people were trying their best to keep things moving in an untenable situation. It would have been easy to blame Air Canada for cancellations and delays and lost luggage but after talking to my son who flies for WestJet, it seems travel anywhere is now a perfect storm of everything that can go wrong going wrong. Apparently at the base of all the problems is a lack of workers – not at the top of the ladder but at the very base of the work force – ground crews, baggage handlers, and cabin crews. Do not even mention passports and Covid masking which are the purview of the Federal government.

This and other urgent matters were fully discussed while fishing. The consensus on Ukraine was that Russia should have been stopped before they even crossed the border. We stopped short of nuking them, but a show of NATO forces when Russia was amassing troops on the border would have done it. Maybe we were wrong, but what we did or didn’t do surely seems to be an ongoing disaster for Ukraine. Dean yelled to us that the pike were hitting on chartreuse jigs so we dropped the politics and switched baits.

The Lodge had a mixture of Canadian and American guests and once we learned not to mention anything about Republicans or Trump, we got along fine. We had to explain that what they called walleye were pickerel and that there were three kinds of pike: under 20 inches was a hammer handle; 21 to 35 inches was a northern pike; and over 36 inches was The Great Northern Pike. We also boasted that all four of us had been in the shop where they manufactured those Geisler boats that everyone praised for their comfort and handling.

Our announcement at dinner one evening that I had caught and released a 28-inch walleye got the approval of the Canucks, but disbelief from most of the Americans. I guess we really are different peoples. Maybe being from Texas where they eat those small 28-inch walleyes explained their rationale, but we like to think of the future fishery. Okay, full disclosure, the lake is Lake Esnagi.

Anyway, sitting here looking at photographs from the fishing trip and at my gold medallion, I weighed the adventures for personal satisfaction, achievement, enjoyment, the companionship of friends, and what, if anything, the weekends meant to others in the grand scheme of things. Yeah, the boys know I can still cast a line and reel in large fishes, drink a few bubblies and kick Keith’s butt at Wizard, but sitting exhausted in that Dragon Boat with “the Girls” takes it all.

Yep, there definitely can be an active life after breast cancer.

Bill Walton

About the Author: Bill Walton

Retired from City of North Bay in 2000. Writer, poet, columnist
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