It begins with our brothers, then boyfriends and especially the ones we keep as husbands—they all rely on a woman’s sense of place. They misplace their favorite toy tank, their left sock, or the filet knife and presume we know where to find it. I am never sure if they think we have a superior sense of smell tuned to their scent or a special radar programed into our extra X chromosome. How is irrelevant, as long as we patiently find their missing treasure.
All this trust in us drifts away when we approach water. Apparently our universal female seeking feature is confined to at-home uses, including the man caves and garages, but doesn’t extend into nature. We are not asked to find the pool harboring the hungry trout. Indeed, in my experience when a fisherman watches me it begins with a cynical stare that lingers longer than should be comfortable but on a river feels less predatory. It becomes awkward glances over the shoulder to make sure I am not onto something he missed. Then I get a strike and the stare returns but becomes animated with a disbelieving head shake. The scene ends with the frustrated gentlemen slinking off to a new location where the spectacle of a girl pulling in a fish will haunt him less.
To be fair, spontaneous applauding celebrations from bystanders of the male persuasion do occur. It just is not the normal, except from the one I am married to but he knows my credibility is high.
What helped us find little brother’s love-bedraggled teddy bear in the back of the closet, however, is the same thing that makes women keen fish hunters. We do have a special sense. It is a combination of patience, awareness, and willingness to study our surroundings–really get to know and remember the subtleties. Our sense of place is instructed by more than just where we stand and the moment we are experiencing—a woman’s presence includes split atoms of past and future. Everyone sees the pockets and edges predictably sheltering the big one we seek, but a woman finds contentment in the promise of the chosen spot and stays to fish it well after the average male would move on with disappointment that the pocket failed him. And the more we succeed with our more patient pursuit the more we are accumulating our knowledge base for the next river.
Tenkara only elevates this female phenomenon. Its simplicity fits perfectly into a feminine approach. The gentlemen like gizmos and gadgets, and give great deference to the notion that the more complicated it is, the better the outcome. If you start to strip off the layers of distraction—a long line, a spinning reel, a huge box of flies—you are better able to hone in on the place and stay the course with your choice of shimmering water, frothing seam, or shadowed edge. Tenkara puts you in the right frame of mind to find your fish, or maybe even let the fish find you. It allows neurons to engage in seeing yourself as part of the river and fish world. You start to note the places a man just might not look or the creature that just buzzed around your outstretched arm that looks remarkably like the fly on your line. Within internal quiet, the female sense of place and innate sense of knowing where something is takes form.
We continue to pluck things out of black holes for our boys, and are apt to show them the spots we like to fish. But gents, you are on your own to figure out the mysteries of patience. Ladies, stand your water and fish with confidence in your sense of place. We have earned it.