Meditations on a Tackle Box

The plastic box contains a disjointed collection of fishing tackle: the aggregate of summer holidays, a tangle of failed temptations. Take out the plastic hand-lines and stack  to one side. The cork hand-line is more interesting. It can sit on its own. A small box full of lead. Hefty. Dense. Held shut with a rapidly perishing rubber band…

(Have you ever considered that an oyster is really a kind of elastic between two shells?)

… The bright points of stainless steel hooks and barbs prick out of the gray and rust. The brass spinners form seams of precious metals among the base. Ripe for the alchemy of the seas. These little plastic tackle boxes always come filled with compartments and into each one we place precisely the same jumble of hooksleadsinkersandspinners as all the others. Each compartment contains the chaos of the whole. Every tackle box I’ve ever seen is like this. Everything is like this. Set it aside.

I am interested primarily in the lures.
Of course.
After all, this is the Being of Fishing: the temptation of fish, the art of piscine persuasion unto death. “You will not surely die!” says the craftiest of God’s creatures to the innocent fish. “And when the fish saw that the bait was good for food and pleasing to the eye, she took some and ate it.”

The bottom of the box is filled with old lures. Scattered and discarded temptations. Hard wooden lures in lurid colours with bibs for bobbing, soft plastic lures that wriggle arousingly, lures that whir and spin: engines of discombobulation. Each attempts to embody the desires of fish. Each was purchased with hope, and cast into the waters with anticipation. Each is a salt-encrusted moment of ‘Fishing’…

(When did Man become the Tempter?)

… Fishing: an activity whose deepest phenomenological structure consists almost entirely of hoping. Standing on the edge of the world and hoping. Contemplating liminality and sublimity: land/water/sky/death. And hoping. Rising and falling with the movements of the celestial bodies. And hoping. Rhythmic, yet still. Consciousness focussed on receptivity: waiting for the little taps on the line. Morse code from beyond. Weirdly, this little school of fake fish, stranded at the bottom of a box is an archeology of human intentions and desires: formed, enacted, abandoned, mouldering.  Fishing generates a sweet awareness of power and a subconscious uneasiness. Moments, trivial to be sure, of planning, contemplation, exhilaration, frustration. Fishing is love and death, fashioned and handled with uniting desires.
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

There is a knot that every fisherman learns to tie. Seven turns, back through the eye-loop, through the loop now formed, slide down and pull tight. The blood-knot. I learned it from my father who claimed he could tie it in the dark. (Which was probably true back then). I have the same fat fingers as him: the same shaped hands that used to fascinate me when I was a child bored in church.
I never learned the blood-knot in a book. I bet hardly any fisherman ever did. We learned it as a tradition. The acts of tying, whether in the dark alone, with cold fingers and the wind peeling the skin from your ears, are enacted tradition. It ties more things together than just hook and line. Teaching it to others might be how we mend the world. Or break it.

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2 thoughts on “Meditations on a Tackle Box

  1. Love this. Thanks for sharing. I particularly love the interspersing of ideas and questions. Oh and that last meditation on the blood knot. And im not even a fisher…

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    1. Thanks Sophie. Strange coincidence of names. I only vaguely remembered that it was called a blood-knot when I started writing. It was just ‘the knot that Dad taught me to tie for fishing’. I wonder who named it and when? It would have something to do with the development of nylon fishing line…

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