Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Fishing with Wilbur

Hi, folks. It's been quite awhile since I posted. Bailey is right--we had plenty of tourists visit this summer. It was great to meet many of our Scenes and Beans readers! So why is Kanner Lake such a great place to visit? Oh, we've got the beautiful lake and the mountains around, with plenty of places to get in touch with creation. But there's more to this little town than a pretty postcard. This is a place where the stranger becomes family.

Let me tell you a story from my first summer here. It was slow making friends as the new pastor. Everybody figured they had to be righteous or something around me, so they didn't want to do anything relaxing for fear of doing something "stupid." They never worried about the pastor being the one to do something dumb! One Sunday, Wilbur Hucks came up to me after church. (I think his wife may have done a little prodding, but he attended that service nonetheless.) He asked if I wanted to do a little fishing the next Saturday. Boy howdy, did I! I'd grown up in Idaho, and if it's one thing this place has, it's good fishing. I'd been too busy to get out and drop a line. Now here was a local, wanting to take me to some sweet spot. I was pretty excited to get my waders out and get my feet wet.

Wilbur seemed a cantankerous sort, so I didn't want to set him off. I hoped to show him this "man o' God" could get right in there. I didn't know the best lure for this area, but I picked out some of my favorites. Wilbur drove up in his Chevy before the crack of dawn, and we were off. It was a quiet trip except for Wilbur always "honkin' his horn" as he put it. I'd never seen a man blow his nose so much. He said he was having trouble with allergies and never could seem to break open the dam in there.

We started into some small talk until we parked at the trailhead, and then we hiked a little ways to one of the tributaries that feeds Kanner Lake. Lovely area, with trees lining the shore. Wilbur was chatting a little more, telling me about life in town. He also started bragging about his fishing prowess. "I always land the big one," he bragged between nose wipes with his handkerchief.

Our lines started dancing over the water, testing the fish to see what they'd bite. All the while, Wilbur couldn't stop blowing his schnoz. I couldn't take it any more after awhile. "Wilbur, you're gonna scare the fish away a mile around if you keep it up!" I declared. He glared at me as if to say, "You young pup, who are you to be telling me to hold my honker."

In my peripheral vision I saw a big fish splash in the water. They hadn't been biting earlier, so I was determined to get this one. Just about the time I went to cast, Wilbur took a step toward me--and I hit him right square in his snoot. My line flew out just so--right where the fish had landed. Wilbur yelped and threw his hands to his face.

"Wilbur, are you all right?" I asked. All the same, I didn't set the pole down. I wanted to catch that fish.

"Oh my node!" I glanced over and saw blood on his fingers. I hadn't realized I'd hit him that hard. About that time I felt a powerful tug at the end of the line. Wow, what a fish it must be! He almost pulled the rod out of my hand. I look back at my wounded companion. I figured I was in big trouble now. I could read the headlines Jared Moore would be writing: Clumsy Local Pastor Gets Tied Up in Own Fishing Line. So much for making a new friend.

Wilbur pulled out a handkerchief to stem the flow. Instead of threatening me, he waved me back toward the stream. "Don't worry aboud me. You git dad monster!"

We were a sight, let me tell you. I was reeling in what would be the largest fish to come out of Cooper Creek in twenty years, according to the locals, while Wilbur cheered me on with his head tilted back, trying to stop the bleeding. I wrestled the beast to the shore, and after getting him secured, I packed up all the gear. I tottered down the trail with Wilbur leading the way, the occasional drop of blood escaping to mark our path. We reached the truck and got some ice out of the cooler. After another 10 minutes or so, the flow slowed to a trickle, and then stopped. Wilbur was quite the vision, with blood and dirt smeared across him. I was sitting there as contrite as I could be, feeling awful about ignoring him while hauling in my prize. That is, until Wilbur slapped me heartily on the back. He sat on the tailgate, beaming, then pointed at his swollen nose.

"Hey, I can breathe! I can't remember the last time I didn't feel stuffed up. You knocked it loose just great." He looked me up and down before commenting, "You'll do good here in Kanner Lake, Hank Detcher."

Wilbur and I have been friends ever since. This story just shows how this little quiet town takes in family. We take all kinds. It reminds me of one of my favorite verses, Psalm 68:6, "God sets the lonely in families."

God bless you all.

-- Pastor Hank

Posted by ~ Bailey Truitt @ 7:00 AM
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