Once upon a time…
There was a young woman who graced poise and class.
Beautiful, adventurous, wild and determined, she fled a difficult past, riding the days away atop a small mare named June.
From child to teenager June mentored this young woman, teaching her independence, strength, ambition and solidarity.
Together, the two of them would roam endless fields and forests, seeking refuge from the world and excitement in the wind slapping at their faces.
I am proud to introduce you to my mother.
Mom never was one to take the word “no” lightly.
A free-spirit by heart but a professional in the office, she was an anomaly in her own right and fierce in every sense of the word.
Disinterested by the attention her appearance received, she worked tirelessly with determination to win the respect of her male counter-parts (regardless of whether or not they were willing to give it up with ease).
The motto of “you don’t have to like me but you will respect me” was a common theme through her career and as a young girl I remember sitting quietly through the open tears, dried cheeks, ambitious healing and, consequently, raised pay cheques.
Mom was tough, she rocked the work-force and her quick witted intelligence paired with her no nonsense approach quickly took her to some of the lead roles in the 9 to 5 world.
She finished her degree while working a full-time job, raising two young children, leading a group of girl scouts and making sure the house was healthy in every aspect.
My mother was/is the toughest woman I know and for that I will forever be thankful.
Oh, where to start…?
My father had twelve years on my mom.
Sensitive, intelligent, independent and opinionated, Dad had left his home in Newfoundland at the age of seventeen to hop freight trains across the country, living on a dime along the way until eventually settling in Vancouver.
He was a hippy and while he cringes a little when I describe him as such, his bellbottoms, hair and constant attachment to a guitar give him away before I even utter the “H” word.
A luthier (guitar builder) to this day, I have never witnessed a single day in my 30 years without the man strumming, building or admiring a guitar.
The two of them met as room-mates in the small confinements of a Vancouver apartment.
Mom would do her hair and makeup before heading out on a date and Dad would sit with her as she primped and placed. Truly the best of friends, they would laugh, philosophize and daydream over a bathroom counter of lipstick and mascara.
It was on an evening of some poor fools’ misfortune that a scheduled date stood up my mother, leaving her to stew at the wasted energy on her beauty efforts and time. Dad, the tricky man that he is, offered to stand in and take her out for a coffee.
It’s been almost 40 years now and the two of them are still together; more in love than ever.
They each had their passions, Dad had his guitars and a small airplane, Mom had her horses, and both had the outdoors.
They shared each others interests and dabbled in new areas of adventure.
Delighting in the finer things in life, they stayed away from the preconceived pressures of large homes and fancy cars, focusing on the pleasure of the outdoors instead.
Mom always stayed true to her feminine roots, never ceasing to blow my Dad’s mind as she explored the world alongside him, welcoming the stain of dirt and grit in true lady form.
It wasn’t until I recently opened a dusty photo album titled “1970’s” that I realized where this strange passion of mine found its roots.
Here she is fishing in the 70’s during their honeymoon. Yes, those are platforms and very short shorts. I love you Mom… you were badass.
Oh, they were fun… troublesome, but fun.
The best of friends, together they owned the world and shared the same morals. Good people, honest people, both willing to fight for what’s right and both in agreeance that they would never be birthing any children.
It was a conversation that neither of them had expected to have when they decided that they had a lot to offer a child.
After many discussions and shuffling of schedules, it was in 1982 that they conceived a small baby during a rushed lunch break (sorry Mom).
Eight and a half months pregnant, my Mom stayed true to her earthy nature as her and dad maintained outdoor pursuits and good times. Here she is on the Chilliwack River at eight and a half months pregnant and ready to deliver a small baby girl in just two short weeks:
Soon after, I was born…
Responsibility forced them to consider their priorities and Dad soon sold his beloved plane; my Mom in turn decreasing her time at the stable.
Dad took a factory job in Richmond, dreading the shift work with every ounce of his body, consequently making me vow that I would never fall into a life of misery so often associated with “the man”.
I stayed true to my word that I would follow my heart and swore that I would choose happiness over money in a pursuit that I was passionate about.
Perhaps it was inevitable that their families would be concerned at the parenting choices of my folks.
Determined to ensure that I was never sheltered and certain that I would be as independent as each of them, they were more relaxed than most parents during my upbringing.
While some critiqued their methodology, they stood beside their decision that a few bumps and bruises would better me as a person.
They set out to make me strong and they most certainly succeeded.
We lived in a humble home…
Drove inexpensive vehicles….
And were rockstar rich with outings & adventures.
I was a barn baby from before I was born…accompanying Mom at the stables and entertaining the horses from my days in the womb into my early teens.
It is my belief that Mom wanted me to be an equestrian but she never forced me to continue with the sport as I outgrew it.
Dad, on the other hand, had plans for me.
Tricks, jokes and pranks were always par for the course with my father. Never failing to seek humour in this crazy world, he would thrive in the hilarity of watching me adapt.
Whether it be giving me a ladle to eat soup, or watching me trap myself in the corner of my cradle only to leave me on my own to figure a way out, he was never short on entertainment. To this day, he still delights in such comedy.
I grew up loving to laugh and spend time with them both.
A confessed “Daddy’s girl”, I couldn’t get enough time with him. He was/is a damn good father and my best friend in every sense of the word.
They allowed me a lot of time on my own and delighted in watching what interested me. Bugs and the pet worm who lived under the back door mat kept me entertained and days spent indoors were rare.
Horses, guitars, comedy and bugs…yet it was the fishing and the rivers that made the strongest impact in my early days.
Dad, an occasional bait angler would take me to the lake and together we would troll worms in hopes of encountering an unfortunate rainbow trout.
Setting up camp in our large backyard, we would play wilderness adventure where Dad would pretend that we were lost in the deep woods, trying to survive through the cold so we could appreciate the next morning.
Mom made sure she kept her little girl looking exactly like that: a little girl. I was a mini version of her but with dirty nails, grey knees, fraying dress and silky ribbon in my hair.
It wasn’t long before we were expecting another member in our family and Mom was pregnant with the best thing that ever happened to this world: my sister.
It was love at first sight when I saw her…dark and gorgeous, Dana stole all of our hearts.
Our entourage hit the beaches and the waterways of the coast as we turned over rocks, sighted for fish in clear streams and shrieked as crabs clung to our tiny fingers.
Camping was always a large part of our family outings and the summer months had us road-tripping to the woods. Packing a crib for little sis and enough lifejackets to float an arc, there was nothing that could get in the way of my parent’s passions.
Dana was often attached with a rope to ensure that the river couldn’t steal her and I roamed the bank looking for life.
(Here Dana and Dad fish the Chilliwack in hopes for a taker… I absolutely love the rope).
She was precious.
Mom was a girl scout leader and she affectionately allowed me to put her through nine long years of scouts. Eventually when I completed the final year of the program (in my teens) I followed her steps as a leader trying to help the younger girls to also earn their badges.
I will forever swear that by my participation in this group I maintained a passion and education for the outdoors.
Never without entertainment, I would make nets out of nylons and hangers where I would proceed to fish/dipnet for just about any species I could conjure up.
By the age of 8 I had my own bike and a copious amount of outdoor freedom.
A large frog pond in the woods a few miles away captivated me and I often dredged through it in my rubber boots.
I recall a day where I peddled to the pond, determined to fill my glass jar with enough frogs & tadpoles to start my own sanctuary.
My collection activities done, I headed home but uneven asphalt on the ride back flung my canning jar to the cement and I cried as I frantically scraped the drying, squashed bodies from the road before burying each of them in a very serious ceremony under the large conifer in the front yard.
It had been my first feeling of loss and it sickens me to this day when I think of the dread that filled my excited heart.
Frogs, salamanders, minnows, trout… ponds, rivers, lakes and puddles all were worthy of my attention. This is another staple that holds true to this day.
The fish were always a bonus in my younger days. At the age of 12 I had accumulated a worthy allowance and it just so happened that a nearby mall nested a small tackle shop next to it.
An eighth grader with shallow friends, I received funny looks when I chose to spend my money on glass jars of yellow marshmallow PowerBait and anise-scented salmon eggs.
Dad had given me a small brown tackle box and it was my mission to fill it for a day when I could drive myself to the river to continue my solo pursuits for elusive fish.
Soon, old enough to drive and equipped with my first car (a 1983 blue Buick Skylark), I was hitting the river on a near daily basis.
By 21 I had purchased a home in Chilliwack where I was close to my beloved river…and by 23 I was guiding for a local outfit.
I started my business 6 years ago in tribute to the misery of my father’s dreaded job at the factory.
Readily risking the acceptance of all things deemed normal by society, I gladly made an exchange of the aforementioned for the satisfaction of following my heart.
It is a path that I have chosen to blaze for myself; a zoning permit that my parents put in my hands as a newborn. This business stands for so much more than just days on the water or fishing memorabilia… this business is what I dreamt of as a little girl; one that I have been training for since my first comprehension of societal expectations; one that I am delighted that so many of you have chosen to share with me.
I would like to take this moment to announce that from this point I will be moving any blog posts about opinion and personal tributes to a venue that is more specific to uncensored vocalization. I will continue to keep the Fly Gal blog active for more business related articles but am excited to speak more openly on a page solely built for the purpose of writing from my heart. Details and new link to come.
Thank you for your business and for your readership… Words cannot express just how much wind you have gifted these wings of mine and I am so incredibly glad that I jumped.