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Catching Peace

After a crazy week of work, I headed to Portland for the Willamette Writer's Conference. The conference is filled with long grueling days of lectures, pitching to agents, and visiting with other writers. It's great to learn, but there's no down time, it's all business. Like most Americans, sometimes it's easier to catch a cold than it is to catch a break and the weeks seem to fly by. Lucky for me, my cousin Taylor lives in Portland, so I extended my trip for a day of relaxation.

Taylor is an avid fisherman and she has the boat, the rods, and all the gear you could imagine. The night before, I asked, "Are we using these squiggly, colorful things for bait?" She looked at me and said, "Yes, that is called a hoochie."

Hoochie? seriously? I guess some man named those things. No woman would have called them that.

Taylor woke me up at 3:30 a.m. so we could drive an hour and put the boat in the water before the sun came up. I was markedly less enthusiastic than she was at that hour, but once I got out on the water in that crisp cool air and put my hoochie in the water, I was wide eyed and bushy tailed - ready to catch not just one, but as many fish as we possibly could. I never doubted we would catch something, after all, I bought a whole new outfit for this trip. I explained to my husband Walter, "You can catch anything in the right outfit!" I had everything from the wide brim hat, sun clothes, down to the camouflage water shoes.

Within minutes the line jiggled and I reeled it in steady and determined not to let the fish off the hook. In no time at at all, I had the first fish in the boat. Taylor and I spent the next couple hours reeling in fish after fish, 13 in total, 10 of which were keepers. Taylor told me, "You don't count the ones you throw back due to type or size." I guess that's the mentality of a pro, but this amateur was determined to count anything and everything we caught - if it had gills it got numbered.

I sat there taking it all in as the reflection of the tall pine trees reflected upon the still water. In that beautiful cove, the sounds of nature wrapped around us from all directions. It was such a thrill, but it wasn't so much about the fish. In between all those fish I caught something else, I caught peace.

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