It’s in My DNA

It’s in My DNA

Been thinking about my dad a lot lately. He died when I was in college after a long battle with an undiagnosed ‘something’ that took his life in a very slow, painful way. A recent Orvis podcast on neonic pesticides brought it up in a deeper way.

My dad loved to fish and hunt. He was a strong, vital man…a farmer. My mom remembers him coming home drenched in pesticides from either filling the sprayer on the tractor or from flagging for the crop-duster airplane. The doctor’s never gave him a real diagnosis, but I did some searching on micro-fiche (rememberer that???) while at Auburn. I was in a Public Relations class and was doing a paper on environmental disasters and how the media covered them. I was actually working on a Three Mile Island paper, but while at the library searched for chemical disasters.

What I found was a chemical plant where workers were exposed to a chemical spill in the plant and they all got very sick, very quick. Their symptoms were the exact same as my dad, but they happened much quicker because of the massive exposure.

I’ve always linked my father’s illness and death to chemical exposure. But that’s not what’s in my DNA…at least I hope it isn’t. He’s been gone 41 years now, but his love of fishing is what I find deep within myself.

As a kid, we fished from the time we were toddlers. My first fish was a flounder on a cane pole when I was probably three or four years old. Then there was a deep sea fishing trip with my dad, when I was 12, when I hooked a king mackerel and it was big! I didn’t think I could land it, but my dad stood beside me and encouraged me and refused to let me give up. It was a lesson that stuck with me. I’ve never given up on life, even though at times it’s been tempting to forget the dreams and just become a robot like so many humans.

The podcast…it was about neonic pesticides and how they are so deadly to insects….good insects…that we need. Like bees and mayflies and caddis flies….basically without insects we are completely done for. We can just bend over and kiss ourselves goodbye. And of course, many fish species eat insects…so you know where this is going. This is a group of pesticides outlawed in Europe and other countries, including Canada. And I just heard, New York state outlawed them (yippie). The rest of our country needs to wake the heck up! These are more dangerous than DDT…remember that one?

I write this to honor my dad…how he passed along his love of fishing to me. As I wade the creeks and rivers here in the Smokies I think of him. He’d be in his 80’s now. Sometimes I think he’s wading alongside me, probably smiling as much as me when I land a fish.

As I begin to offer holistic fly fishing to folks, it’s my hope that it helps them heal as much as it does me. And that I can pass along good stewardship of our planet to all who wade with me or read these words. It’s not just about catching fish, but caring for fish and all life on this magnificent planet.

By the way…I’ve eaten organically as much as possible since my dad’s death. I figure if I support organic farmers, that’s one less conventional farmer spraying with these chemicals or using seeds treated with them, that’s getting my money. Forty years ago you had to be in an organic food buying co-op to secure organic food. Now, you can walk into almost any grocery store and buy organic. So, I do that and I write my representatives in Congress and let them know this is unacceptable. And I remember my dad and the legacy he left me: don’t give up, stand up for what’s right, protect the Earth. Thank you dad!

My brother and me enjoying dirty feet and freshly caught fish.
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