Saturday, May 12, 2012


It's the Minnesota Fish Opener which, in this state by long tradition, shares the second May weekend with Mother's Day.

Many grills sit forlorn on patios and decks this weekend. Kitchens go cold for a day as we take our moms to Sunday brunch or dinner.

Fire up the grills for Father's Day all you will. With the opening of the game fish season, and Mother's Day too, we have other fish to fry right now as the saying goes.

Such grilling as happens this weekend is often in the nature of a question. "Any luck?" fishing parties are asked as they come off the water.

"Where do you fish?" is a question some feel pressed into answering. They're the ones who like to keep their fishing hot spots secret. "Lake No Name'Um" has more than once been given as a reply.

Fish Opener results are covered in the news. A big catch or general lack thereof gives local color to the event.

With the fishing report any one of us can feel we sat all day in the boat. We can imagine reeling in the fishing line and perhaps a trophy walleye on one of the casts.

Opening day has been somewhat slow. A cold front yesterday might have had its effect on how the fish were biting. 

Whether on the lake or basking in the backyard there was luck with the weather. Today was an excellent catch. Bright skies, light breezes and temperatures around 70 degrees made this Saturday a keeper.

April, by now a couple weeks behind us, is a month of promise. It sometimes but doesn't always deliver. It teases as much as it pleases. It can act as if it steered by two left and two right feet. It has a goal but is apt to flounder on direction.

May is the expansive friend who throws a party. May wows with verve which is fresh and candid. This is carried through in May's important role as catalyst for summer.

It's the sense that May is the throttle on summer that makes me appreciate a certain line from the short story "Freeze-Out." The story, from 1931, is by American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald's St. Paul stories are a number of short stories written before he hit it big as a published novelist. The short stories appeared in magazines like The Saturday Evening Post.

The early writings showcase his talent for exposing society and the times through the filter of his characters.

You can't help but take a shine to his cast of youth introduced in the St. Paul stories. They may be creative inventions of nearly a century ago. That doesn't matter at all.

Fitzgerald's agility in depicting his own boyhood through these kids makes them alive with longings, the joys and betrayals of friendship, dreams and the obstructions to their dreams.

They prepare for college in the East or return faintly conscious of the odor of exclusiveness upon them.

The book is The St. Paul Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald. My favorite of the young people we meet is Basil Duke Lee.

He's the neighbor boy we all know down the block or would know if we lived on a leafy quiet affluent residential street in the green heart of St. Paul. We feel like we could even point out his house.

It was while spending time in Fitzgerald's old St. Paul that I read the line from "Freeze-Out." He writes, "On the day spring broke through and summer broke through - it is much the same thing in Minnesota" ...

As little as the author would see Minnesota after his youth he sure got it correct in this one line. The Minnesota warm season arrives like this.

It arrived like this one hundred years ago in Fitzgerald's experience. It arrives like this in modern day. It's not uncommon to have one big spike of heat. Cool to hot is immediate. Some of us cheer it on. Not so fast, others complain.

Fitzgerald is perhaps best known as the author of The Great Gatsby (look for it as a film in December 2012). I'll be at that book next.

Some people reel in fish, fighting and bending the rod, on their lines. Some of us fish using a slightly different method. We fish for lines, speaking of life, to reel in.

Good luck, fish responsibly and may the big ones leap into your net.

Ro Giencke - May 12, 2012

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