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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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From My Window

Issue Date: August 12, 2020

Fish Sticks

By Jane Thibodeau Martin,

I am a newspaper junkie and when I get a chance to read one from a different area of the country I enjoy it. You can learn a lot about the local culture, economy and people. Yes, you can look at a Chamber of Commerce web site, but they tend to be relentlessly positive. Or you can look at a local Facebook, but sometimes those seem to represent the more strident and negative aspects of a community. No, there is nothing like a professionally edited, fair and balanced newspaper to be able to learn about both the positive and the not-so-good aspects of a community.

So I really enjoyed getting a copy of the "Dickenson Press" from North Dakota not long ago. This "small market" paper had good local interest stories and the one that caught my eye, to the point that I cut it out and brought it home, was about three local young women who call themselves, in a cheeky way, "the Fish Sticks."

The group is two sisters and a cousin, all of Grand Forks. They range in age from 18 to 20. When the pandemic began to alter their educational plans, they found themselves back home with a lot of spare time on their hands, and one of them decided they should take up fishing.

None of the women came from a family with a strong fishing history. The father of the two sisters stated they'd gone fishing a few times many years ago, but haven't gone since. But the women wanted some sort of interesting outdoor diversion, and fishing seemed like a good, safe choice. Lots of ability to social distance outdoors, and there were good instructional videos available on YouTube.

So they learned how to tie knots on the line, went and got fishing licenses and picked a spot on the map to go shore fishing that "looked good." They have no access to a boat, and find that they can be very successful (at least most of the time!) fishing from the bank. At the time of the article, they guessed they'd been out fishing 25-30 times, exploring different areas. No one has mentored them, they just figure it out on their own.

According to the North Dakota Game and Fish department, as of June the increase in fishing license sales this year in the state was 27% from the previous year. Around a third of the licenses sold were issued to females. It would seem some people, denied the normal large festivals, concerts and fairs, are deciding that fishing is a good alternative entertainment.

Eventually, the Fish Sticks hope to try some "real fishing" and get in a boat. But in the meantime, Megan Peck advises other people who want to try fishing to "Look up YouTube videos and learn to tie a knot-that's all I did. And then go for it!"

I was struck by the positive attitude of these young women. And it is August here in Wisconsin. We have several more months of great weather. It's hard to say what the pandemic will look like later this year, so we should make the most of that nice weather, and get outside. There are so many safe activities available to residents of Timesland that are hard to come by in urban areas. Visit a local park you haven't gone to in years " or ever. Ride bikes with a friend. Have socially distanced coffee or happy hours outside with friends who aren't in your "household bubble." Pack a picnic and eat in a park or your backyard. Go to a beach on a cool day, when it won't be crowded. Pick berries. Challenge yourself to see how many kinds of wildflowers you can find. Walk or play Frisbee with a dog. (If you don't have a dog maybe you can borrow one.) Bake cookies and gift them on someone's doorstep. Winter will curtail some of these safe choices for those who want to avoid getting sick, or who have someone in their "bubble" who is highly vulnerable. Let us revel in the options open to us in the summer and fall now, while we still can. There is something about being "outside" that is really healthy for our "insides."

It's hard not to admire the Fish Sticks. Obviously these are great young women, creative and resilient. They aren't whining or complaining about what they can't do. They are finding safe new things, and maybe inspiring other young people to do the same. Possibly even prompting this aging tomboy who likes to fish, but still relies on her husband to tie her fishing knots, to watch a video or two and become more independent in her forays on "Hank Lake."

Book I am reading: "The Living Great Lakes" by Jerry Dennis. (Thank you, daughter!) A lovely non-fiction mix of history, ecology and adventure about the priceless treasure we have in our own "backyards."

Song stuck in my head: The very obnoxious "Bad, Bad Boys" by Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine. I have NO idea where my ears got infected with this disco-ish song but it's wickedly catchy. I don't like it at all but it's persisted in my under-thoughts for several days. Very toxic. I DO like Gloria Estefan's voice, and highly recommend her lovely "Words Get in the Way." I only wish THAT was what was haunting me and not the brassy, jingly irritation of Bad Boys.

You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: JanieTMartin@gmail.com.




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