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Posts Tagged ‘fishing’

He was sittin’ near the dock of Fisherman’s Bay when I approached Michael.  He was having a smoke, trying to decide how he would eat and get his one change of clothes washed.  It was cold and blowing near the water of Puget Sound in Seattle. Michael was shivering as I walked toward him.

When I asked if he would take the $10 I had extended in my hand he was quick to say “Sure, what do I need to do for it?” and promptly tucked it into a pocket. As I explained the project and that I just wanted to talk to him, he seemed a bit touched by the gesture.

He patted the bench, inviting me to sit next to him. The short horizon before us was filled with fishing boats – owned mostly by independent, small fishermen.

“Most of ‘em are back for the season,” Michael noted.  “It gets mighty cold up there in Alaska during the winter so they come back to Seattle. I used to have a boat-I moored it at Elliot Bay but it got pretty expensive.  I’d fish sockeye…all kinds of salmon, and black cod. There are a lot of fish in that ocean.”

Michael snuffed out his cigarette when I asked him what he thought he would do with the money I gave to him. “Eat breakfast and buy a pouch of tobacco.”

Beneath his knit hat and overgrown scraggly beard, were bright blue eyes, twinkling as he shared his story with someone who actually wanted to listen. He explained how he had broken his foot: He was helping clean up a yard with a high fence. When he tried to jump it instead of going the long way around to the gate, the razor-sharp barbed wire snagged him; he fell from the top and shattered his heel and other bones.  That was six months ago and he’s still in a splint, hobbling about.

“It’s really been a crummy year. I’m unemployed and then had my van towed. I had my camping stove in it, my jeans, shorts, CDs and it’s all gone.  But even before that, I had 45 years of life auctioned off to pay my bills.  Everything went: There were shoes, boots, my potter’s wheel, and a beautiful wooden chest from Thailand that was my grandmother’s. My dad helped me some when I needed money, but you just can’t replace the memories when those things are taken away from you.

“I was a photographer, too. I did poster quality work.  Most of what I shot was of the Pacific NW-the fish, the mountains, the water. Man, I loved doing that. But I’m a survivor.  I’ve seen some tough times before and I bounced back – I will again.” He smiled. He was determined. Somehow he will again have a life he wants.

Today, with a duffle bag, some blankets and one change of clothes he has an advantage because he can just leave – go – hit the road, if he wants. And he’s thinking about it.  With family and some friends who are in San Diego, he may just head south and hang with some pals who are still surfing. In 2006 he was fortunate enough to be surfing in Hawaii; in fact, another one of his skills is that he can build boats, kayaks, surf boards, canoes; he said he was taught by the best of the best.  He paid close attention when the carving and crafting artists were assembling their means of water transportation or sport.  After that, he learned how to paint – anything! Yachts, boats, houses.  He gazed at the marina filled with fishing boats.

“Yeah, it’s true.  I’ve been knocked down many times but then I always managed to get back and prove to myself that I’m the survivor that I am.”

I asked if I could take his picture. Proudly, he agreed. It was only appropriate that he be photographed against a tapestry of boats. He smiled. He had $10 in pocket, a meal on its way, and hopes and dreams in his heart.

Best of luck, Michael!

-Petra from Seattle, WA

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Dane fishing in the waters of Valley Creek in Pennsylvania. (Photo: Reed)

While I was visiting my friends up in Pennsylvania we decided to go for a hike in Valley Forge.

Along the hike I spotted Dane doing some fishing in the Valley Creek.  I couldn’t resist trying to give my $10 to a guy wading knee-deep in the water.  I yelled over to him and he made his way to the shore and I handed him the money.  I’ll chalk that up for a first: Gave $10 to person in the middle of a creek!

I honestly thought there was a 50/50 chance that I was going to fall in the creek, because to be able to get close enough to Dane to give him the $10 I had to maneuver down part of the bank where I placed one of me feet on a branch and the other on a rock that jutted out from the bank.

Me photographing Dane along the banks of Valley Creek. (photo: K. Kanelakis)

I asked him how the fishing was.  “I haven’t caught anything today,” he told me.  I realized that if I didn’t scare the fish away when I yelled over to him that my friends two boys were taking care of it as they proudly dumped as many rocks as they could into the creek.  When Dane is not fishing, he is looking for work in journalism.  A graduate from UNC, he hopes to find work in Sports Radio.

Here is a little bit of our conversation…

Later that evening Dane was heading to game six of the National League playoffs.  Sorry the Phillies lost Dane.  I was impressed that four or five hours before they threw out the first pitch Dane was chilling in creek doing a little fishing.  

He said he was going to use my $10 get some Mountain Dew.

If anyone can help Dane find a job…leave a message!

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On Sunday I visited my good friends Tom and Tressa and their almost five-month-old daughter Tegan. We went to Fountainhead Regional Park and did some hiking around the Occoquan River Reservoir, which serves as a border between Fairfax and Prince William counties.

We stumbled across a group of people fishing. A young guy who had ventured out on a log a few feet captured my attention. He was wearing a dark shirt, extra long shorts, socks, and sandals. He deftly balanced his weight has he almost effortlessly cast his line in and out. As I approached him I thought he was reeling in a fish, but it turned out to be some branches that his hook got caught up in.

Victor reels in what turns out to be some branches (Photo: Reed)

Victor is a 20-year-old landscaping entrepreneur. For the last three years he has been growing VMR Landscaping in the Northern Virginia region; mostly in Falls Church, Manassas, and Manassas Park. I asked him how business was doing and he quickly replied that the business was doing very well. “Especially power-washing. Right now that is a big part of my business.”

Victor loves to fish. He had caught about four fish that day, but only one was a keeper, a fish with some black coloring on its underside measuring in a little over a foot. His record was a catfish which measured up to his thigh. On Sunday he was mostly catching Crappies, a fish I had never even heard of, but the name alone makes me think that they are a disappointing fish.

All of a sudden he got a bite and started reeling in a fish, but it got away. Took his bait too. I asked him what kind of bait he used and he said that he usually used night crawlers, shrimp, liver or sardines. He is going to use my $10 to rent a boat the next time he comes out to fish…they run about $11 for the day.

Victor shared with me that he does not know his biological mother. Born in El Salvador, he moved here with his father when he was just a few years old. He says that he would like to know her. Her name is Maria Maldalena Arana, although I found very few cases of Maldalena. More common are Magdalena and Madalena…so perhaps I wrote down the incorrect spelling. The last he knew of her was that she was living in Arlington, VA around 1996. Victor thinks that he has a younger sister too. As much as I can understand his desire to meet his mother, I imagine that he must have mixed feelings about it. He must have so many questions. So many emotions.

If anyone has information about Victor’s mother, please comment here or send me an email and I will pass it along to Victor. I would also like to ask that if you live in the Falls Church/Manassas/Manassas Park area and are looking for landscaping services that you consider giving Victor a try. Drop me a note and I can connect you.

Victor caught a small fish that he threw back (Photo: Reed)

As I said goodbye Victor got another bite…this time he reeled the fish in. Unfortunately it was just a little guy. I grabbed a photo of him and the fish before he tossed it back.

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