Thursday, December 29, 2011

My photo did not come out this nice!


Back on the road homeward, I asked the man if
he would like to meet Herman.
We turned off at the next exit and wound our way
through the maze at Bonneville Dam to
the hatchery.
Herman is a very big, 70+ year old fish.
He's one of my FB friends and we are old pals.

I used to work at the fish hatchery
clipping fins and poking computer chips
in tiny fishy noses.
It was one of the best jobs I have ever had.
I gleefully led the way to Herman's abode.
We were going to see the GREAT FISH HIMSELF!

The sturgeons you see that people catch are still fairly young.
Herman is a wise old finster!
If fish were dogs, sturgeons would be bassets.
Herman weighs about 500 pounds!
My babies grew up visiting him regularly...
our watery dog.

The hatchery always has visitors.
We made our way through the gawkers as
the recorded message filled the viewing room.
Two large, older sturgeons swam in the tank
with multiples of beautiful trout and steelhead.
A little girl chirped
"Look!  Rainbow fishies!"
The crowd laughed.

Then there he was...
He swam right up to where I stood.
Can fish remember people's faces?
It felt like it.
He hovered in front of me and I put my hand on the glass...
Herman bumped gently where my fingers touched.
We stood that way, my fishy friend and I for several minutes.
Until the other big fish moved in close and Herman began to circle once more.

Outside again, we stopped to feed the trout.
Not the small frys that I used to abuse for science,
those were all tiny new salmon and steelhead.
These were nice big rainbow trout that any fisherman would be proud to land.
They made the water boil and splashed us.

Back on the road we turned off again
at Mutlnomah Falls, which is also crowded.
Not with the families back at the hatchery.
This was a mob of Asian tourists.
I couldn't help but laugh at how much they
reminded me of the trout swimming around the hatchery ponds.
Funny looking trout with cameras with massive lenses,
gathering in schools to say "cheese" for each other.

Once the man finished looking at the falls,
we were back on the road home again.
This time without further stopping
until we parked in our driveway.
Roxy was so excited to see us that she could
not decide which of us to lick and darted back and forth, wiggling.

Much later, as we lay in bed talking,
the man told me how glad he was that we had gone to see my kids.
He said it felt to him, like Christmas with his own family felt, only louder.
He said that he liked X, that he was a nice man,
and how much he appreciated the gift of the room
and X making the surprise possible.
He is anxious to return for another visit this summer
when we can stay more than one night
and have a long visit,
meet my friends there and spend some time with my dad.
Plans for that have begun.

Our families are different.
His is a quiet group that are not very demonstrative.
Mine are the opposite.
They snatch the man up in bear hugs
and yell at each other from across the room.
They joke and laughter is very common.
I thought a lot about that as I tried to go to sleep.

I have had more trouble blending in to the man's more sedate family.
I decided that perhaps that is my perspective at work...
that the loud and joyful muggings are absent
because that is not their way.
Maybe I have failed to see a quieter form of acceptance
because I am used to something other.

Perhaps his family are more like that great old fish...
and accept slowly and quietly.
My family is more like the trout that boil in the outside hatchery ponds.
Both are fish, but different and special in their own ways.
I will swim in their big, quiet tank...
but I can still be a colorful trout.



  1. The fish analogy seems very apt! I am starting to get a taste of the blending with DR and our families. It is kind of scary and also fun :)

    Nice to be making plans for the summer!!!

  2. laura b.- It is scary but fun too.

    I am sooo looking forward to this summer! =:]

  3. Suddenly I'm imagining a sturgeon posting things on facebook.