Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Today's Fish Stories

I have been receiving a bucket full of fish stories, they seem to run a rorschach gamut of human relationships to "nature," esp childhood encounters with goldfish and the mostly heartless behavior of parents when the fish died.

Beth Carruthers sent me this link:

As I have been gathering these little gems, like sea shells on the beach, I have been involved in an ongoing exchange with colleagues about the definition of ecological art and what we valorize and teach others in our culture. I think these fish stories speak between their lines, to what we valorize.

Most of the contributions, so far, are awaiting permission for attribution. Some have been related in person with firm requests NOT to be attributed or repeated because the implications were so personal & painful. Who knew our relationships with fish could reveal so much? The following stories are about life, death and consumption. The first came in tonight with a proud name tag from a young friend I've known since her childhood in Vinalhaven, Me.:

"At camp, I didn't want to impale worms on hooks, but had no trouble catching fish, watching them die, and cleaning out their guts.  I suppose I felt that I'd eat the fish, taking it's life for mine, but I wouldn't be eating the worm.  I noticed that dandelion stems looked sort of like worms, and set about collecting some, to the scorn and/or amusement of bigger girls and counselors. A friend and I set out in a canoe (also "wrong" -- we were supposed to fish from rowboats, not canoes, but no rowboats were available).  We baited our hooks with dandelion stems -- and promptly caught two large catfish.  There was an ongoing fishing contest during the two weeks of the camp session, so we dutifully brought our catches to the weighing station to be checked in.  At the final campfire, when prizes were announced, my friend had won first prize for the largest fish, and I came in second.  Everybody wanted to know what we used for bait.  By the way, our vegetarian catfish were delicious, and fed our whole cabin.

Fun idea!
Fine to publish, just credit me.

Leila Daw, Artist"

And also from Cecilia Girz, Vinalhaven, Me.:

"My water sports have been limited to swimming, canoeing, and sailing, but my husband, who had fished in Alaska, took our children fishing at the small lake near our Colorado mountain home. The homeowners association would stock the lake with trout, and that afternoon, on the shore of Rock Lake, our kids couldn't contain their excitement at having caught their first fish. Even though it was a small fish (no more than six inches in length), I scaled, gutted, breaded, and fried it for supper.

Full of bones, flesh permeated with the taste of algae, we gagged trying to swallow that fish. To this day, I don't know why or how a fish could be so bad. And, it knocked any future inclination for fishing clear out of those poor little kids.

                    You can't depend on your judgment when your imagination is out of focus.

  - Mark Twain"

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