Old Age, the downside
The Downside of Old age.
Old age kind of creeps up on you. One day you are still playing touch rugby with everyone on the beach and then suddenly you realize that if you try that now you are likely to do yourself harm. Your mind still says, “I can catch the ball, sprint a couple of meters and then send my team mate away with a perfectly timed pass”, but your body shouts out “no way!” So you reluctantly walk by on the beach and admire the view. Mind memory is fine, muscle memory is fine, but somehow the muscles have said goodbye.
This can perhaps best be illustrated by my experience today at one of my favourite places, Gubu Dam. This beautiful lake in the Amatola Mountains is where I come to relax and restore my soul and spirit. It is also an amazing place to fish for trout. The Stutterheim Fly Fishing Club has acquired the fishing rights and have restored an old wood barn into a rustic, but comfortable club house. They also stock the dam with a few thousand trout every year. Although most of those new inhabitants become food for the Otters and Comorants who share their space, the hopeful fishermen and women who come here to catch them, sometimes also have success.
This morning was one of those beautiful days as the red sunrise to the East left the dam with mirror images of Mt. Gubu and Mt. Thomas reflected in the water. After my breakfast I meditated as to whether I should sit at the club house and read my book or venture onto the lake to catch another fish. I use the word “another” under advisement, as it has been quite a long time since I have caught a trout. In speaking to Robin, the Bailiff, yesterday when I arrived, he told me that Gubu was fishing hard, another way of saying, “good luck if you want to waste your time!”
They say hope springs eternal in the human breast and so I decided to give it my best try. As they say, the best chance you have of catching a fish, is to actually have your bait/fly in the water. Loading all my equipment into the boat took some time and then came the real test. How do I get myself into the boat and on to the water? Recently this has become a bit of a problem, not due to muscle memory loss, but to loss of muscle as I explained earlier.
Being somewhat unsteady on your legs is not really a problem when you are walking on a firm base like the ground and supporting yourself with a walking stick, but climbing into a boat that moves somewhat because it is on water is something else. Wearing slip on sandals seemed like a good idea in case I had to walk in the water at some time, but as I bravely stepped into the boat, it decided to leave the shore. Wearing my sandals suddenly became a bad idea! As I grabbed the sides of the boat to steady myself and swung my other leg into the boat, one of my sandals came off and floated in the opposite direction to me and my rocking boat. As you will understand, I now faced a dilemma. Do I let the sandal go, or do I try and rescue it? To cut a long story short I was now safely, if slightly, out of breath, seated on my boat and so I went after the sandal and managed to rescue it with one of my paddles.
The story of how I hooked and landed a 2Kg trout, well it actually weighed in at 1.95Kg but what is .05 of a Kg between friends, is of no relevance to the problem of old age, but it did send my mind racing into another story entitled “The Last Trout”. As I got back to the shore and how I exited the boat however is relevant. Getting onto a moving boat provides a specific challenge but sadly getting out does so as well. But I now have it waxed. Row up to the edge of the water and then, with one hand, grab some of the grass that grows there, all the while hoping that the green snake we saw in the water around about there last night is not lurking. Now, using the other hand, push yourself up onto your rather unsteady legs on the unsteady platform, which is the boat, and then launch yourself onto the bank and hope that the boat does not make a run for it. When you manage to get up grab the boat and haul it up onto the bank: mission accomplished.
The walk up to the clubhouse, carrying my beautiful 2 Kg. trout was a moment of victory to savor and it was a pity that there was no one to see it, but I did not really care. As I opened the can of Dry-lemon cool drink to celebrate my success I felt like a king, an old one, but a king never the less!
The sunset to the west agreed with my soul that this is a great place to be. Even for a king, if only so in my own mind.