MOTHERHOOD AND FISHING
By Kat Stickroth
Mama cows are gathered in Wallowa Valley now, and I empathize with their near bursting bellies. Bovines who spent part of the winter in the canyons have climbed to thousand foot elevations to nourish themselves and the babies inside. Some have traveled several miles, practically waddling to accommodate the extra weight they carry.
They have spent most of their pregnancy standing to graze, standing in huddles to stay warm, standing to avoid the icy ground.
I hear older women in the coffee shop discussing how beautiful the cows are. We are eager for the bouncing baby calves to be born. Mothers have a kindred heart that way.
I loved being pregnant with my children. At least the idea of it. The first three months of morning sickness weren’t that appealing. My changing taste in food was a curiosity. I was going to college, and my large body swinging back and forth around campus the final weeks must have generated pity, for many students pulled up in their cars offering a ride.
That last month, I was tired.
The day before our first child was born, his daddy and I went fishing with my sister and her husband. Alongside the farm pond, I sat in a lawn chair brought for my comfort. Sister stood close by.
The guys were on the water in a john boat. Though they were fishing, they also kept their eyes on me, offering comments and suggestions to improve my chances of a catch.
The pond held smallmouth bass and bream. With each cast, I held my rod firm. At each jiggle, I yanked it up to set the hook. No fish, but the cricket was still intact.
“Must be a little bream,” my husband said. “They can’t always get the bait.”
“Don’t yank it so hard,” Brother-In-Law advised.
The men began philosophizing between them as to why I couldn’t catch a fish, which instilled a fierce determination within me to not be outdone. Amplified intent to react at the perfect time to reel one in led me to forget the contractions squeezing my back.
Still no luck.
“Ooh,” I gasped, as the rod practically bounced out of my hands.
Questioned about why I was laughing so hard, I explained the butt of the rod had been pressed against my rotund belly; all that time the jiggling the line had been from Baby’s kicks, not nibbling fish.
Originally published February 17, 2016 in the La Grande Observer newspaper. Reprinted with permission.