Sometimes you get something better.
I noticed the pair when they arrived with serious fishing gear and got to work. She caught something immediately, and then my attention strayed: Blue Corporals, at least six, emerging or having emerged (including one fatally injured with permanently crimped wings, never to fly, just hanging on).
Eventually, I noticed the man had moved across the lake and the young woman had wandered back to the grassy area near the beach where I stood. I asked her, “Catch and release or eat?”
“Catch and release!”
In a few minutes, she came over to ask what I was photographing. Once I showed her the emerging Blue Corporals, she was as hooked as I.
Of different generations and backgrounds, we found our common ground: love of nature. Like me, she watches something terrible in a nature video and wonders, “Why don’t you guys do something instead of just taking the video?” Like me, she rescues things in need. Someone said to her once, “It’s just nature.” Her answer is mine: “Yes, but I’m there; I can do something, so why wouldn’t I!”
“Yes,” I said. “If I have a wreck on the highway, I hope some living thing that sees me will rescue me.”
From there we launched into stories of her life – what she had wanted to be (a mechanic, but her father had asked how will you lift heavy things? to which she said to me Uh . . . ask? with a half-smile and shrug), what she hated doing (hanging dry wall with her father), what she'd done that made her proud and taught her the big things in life (serve in the Air Force), what she has done for her sister (pay for everything for the sister and sister's baby for two years), and what she won’t do again (surrender herself so fully financially to someone else who could look at herself or himself). She also talked about sometimes wishing she were back in service for one reason: no big decisions. "Everything is decided for you and that's kind of comfortable."
She’s lucky. She has her health, and smarts, and experience, and family. She said, “I keep asking if I can pay rent or buy the groceries or help out with the bills, but they always say no.”
“Good,” I said. “They know you need the time now to decide what comes next.”
“Yes,” she said. “And that’s the scary part.”
After I told her about Lake Dimmick and showed her the map, we parted, but not before we introduced ourselves.
“I really enjoyed talking to you, A_______.”
“Same here, Robley.” she said. “I’m really glad I walked over here.”
I am too.