It was a beautiful Indian summer day in Califon. After some internal debate, I decided to go fishing. I have not been retired long enough not to feel guilt about doing recreational things during the workday. I rationalized that there would only be a few more days like this before we settle into another cold and drab winter.
So I packed my guilt and my gear and went fishing. I decided to select a spot along the river where I haven’t fished before. The area I chose was along a bend about a mile from my house. There is enough room to park one car. A trail leads through the woods to the river.
To access the trail you can either go around the guardrail through a thick undergrowth of flora bunda and poison ivy, or you can go over the rail.
The top rail is made of wood, maybe a 6x6, and is several feet off the ground. There is a drop off of a foot or so on the trail side.
I donned my chest high waders and put on my vest. During warmer months I wear shorts underneath, but today I was wearing jeans.
Since I really didn’t feel like plowing trough poison ivy, I chose to go over the rail. I often wish my body and mind would get on the same page when faced with these situations. My brain looks at things from the perspective of a thirty year old: “Leap that ditch? Sure no prob.” While my aching body is like “you gotta be kidding.”
I managed to get my left leg over the rail. I hate to admit it, but I actually had to partially lift it up to get it started. Now I was astraddle the rail with several inches between my feet and the ground.
The problem is immediately apparent. I cannot get my right leg over the rail, and, because of the drop off on the trail side, I can’t get my left leg in contact with the ground.
A touch of arthritis in my right hip is partly to blame, but my waders are the major issue.
There is no doubt that I have chubbed up a bit since I retired and because I am wearing jeans, there is little slack to be had in my waders. They are too tight for me to move either leg upward. Michelin Man, meet the guardrail.
I am hung up. Beached. Stranded.
I consider my options. I can call Kathie. She, however, is hard at work while I have gone fishing. My male pride removes this from the table.
I can flag down a passing motorist. There is little traffic on this rural road and what there is consists mainly of stay-at-home moms running errands. What woman is going to stop and check out an overweight man in the missionary position atop a guardrail? I wouldn’t want the woman to stop who would stop in such a situation.
I could fish out my cell phone and call the fire company. They could rescue me like I was a large stranded cat. With one burly lad grabbing me under the arms and one on each leg, I would be out in a flash. However, I have lived in this town many years and know most of these guys. It would be chuckled about for generations.
Also, the incident would surely make the police blotter section of the local paper.
I could see the story: The Califon fire department was called out to rescue Jerry Andersen who was stranded astride a guardrail. He was treated for acute humiliation at the scene and released.
No. I was going to have to get out of this on my own. I could just throw myself off to the right and land head first, or gimpy shoulder first, in the parking lot. A last resort.
I undid the suspenders on my waders and managed to shove them down far enough to get some slack in the legs. I was then able to lift and drag my right leg over the rail.
Free at last, free at last………
I went fishing, but I didn’t catch anything.