Thursday, March 26, 2009

What's Your Idea of Fun?

I think we can all describe "fun" by what we learned as kids and what makes us happy as adults. What, if given limitless time and resources, would you do?

Maybe a better way to pose the question would be this: what do you think you could do every single day for the rest of your life? When I think of "fun", there are lots of things that spring to mind, but many of those activities (shopping, cooking, gardening) run their course of being fun and then I'm ready to move onto the next activity.

Last night I watched a documentary for probably the 6th time. I've seen it on the Discovery Channel, TLC, and now I've seen it on PBS. Every time I watch it, this movie captures my attention.

The documentary is all about hand-fishing. It's called Okie Noodling, directed by Brad Beesley.

If you don't know what hand-fishing is, let me tell you: you catch fish with your hands. Period. No string, no rod or reel, no bait, no hook. Most "noodlers" catch flathead catfish, and they do it by sticking their hand into an underwater catfish hole and wait for the catfish to bite their hand. Then they basically grab the catfish by the mouth and yank the catfish out of its hole. The fish can be a typical size, like about 3-4 pounds and 12 inches long. However, most noodlers like to get 'em big. We're talking 40, 50, 60 pounds, and at least 42 inches long. HELLO that's like fishing for a Kindergartener.

Director Brad Beesley has now released a sequel, Okie Noodling 2, and here's a link for the trailer. (Please click the link to get an appreciation for what these guys do. It's amazing.)

Lots of the guys who noodle say that they love working with their hands. The men who were interviewed in Okie Noodling were janitors, garbage truck drivers, and plumbers, and they all love their work. They all said they actually PREFER it because they get to get their hands dirty every day. And, they all were in agreement when they said that noodling is the kind of sport that appeals to people who aren't afraid to get dirty.

Now, I know I will NEVER go noodling. Hell, I can't stand to look for my car keys - I sure as anything ain't gonna go feeling around for a fish that's half the size of me so it can latch onto my arm and bite me. No thanks. But the overwhelming feeling I got from all the footage of the documentary is that these people were having so much fun. They loved what they did. It was the thing in their lives that they look forward to. They all said that they will probably go noodling forever. And, while I think it's all a bit too redneck for me, I love also how unpretentious it is. No flashy equipment to buy. No special outfit to wear. No big resort to stay at. Just simple fun. And, another really cool part came when I heard about how the guys all got into it - their dads all taught them. And they are teaching their own sons (and daughters, if the girls want to.) It is becoming a family event... and how many things do we do nowadays where we actively participate with our children? I'm not talking about standing on the bleachers while our kids are running back and forth after a ball. I'm talking about an activity where both dad and son can say, "We did that together." It's all very cool.

And, I'll secretly admit, although I live in the big 'ole Metroplex, there is a big part of this girl who wants to go back to all things redneck. I have eaten rabbit and squirrel and pheasant, all caught by my husband. I've seen a deer strung up in our backyard after hunting season. I've gone to many wedding receptions at the VFW hall. I can't even count how many times I've been around men who chew tobacco and spit it at random times and in random locations. I've walked in cow manure, I've eaten vegetables that were harvested less than an hour before, and I've sat next to men at church whose "sunday best" was a clean pair of denim overalls. Being a redneck isn't a derogatory term... it's a way to describe people who work hard outside for a living, all day long, and like to enjoy the simple things of life. Usually rednecks are people who live in the country and make their living by farming, but I guess rednecks could be construction workers, ditch diggers, or truck drivers.

So, whether these guys are called "noodlers", "rednecks", "hoosiers", or whatever, I think they don't care as long as you let them leave early on Saturday morning and come back after the sun sets and they've grabbed their limit.


Lana said...

Thanks for letting me know about that show. My 2 oldest grandsons...who are 9 and fishing and would be fascinated by that show! I hope I can find it and dvr it for them.

Debbi said...

Couldn't do it! ! YIKES. I can't stand the thought of fish biting me!

Lisa@verybusymomwith4 said...

LOL--just go a little west of Ft Worth and you will find some redneck heaven ;)
I never heard of that kind of fishing but I could see my kids wanting to do it--me, no way!

Jennifer said...

So they put their arm down in a hole... that they can't see in... in the water. First, Can anyone say snake? Second, they let a big ass fish bite their arm. Does that give anyone else the creeps?

Jen said...

Oh.My.Goodness! I can't believe what I just saw. I am in total and utter shock here. This may have been more than this northern turd could take.

stephanie (bad mom) said...

God bless the noodlers; that is not on my list of the top 1000 fun things to do...

My unequivocal absolute answer to your question is: travel. I could spend every day of the rest of my life wandering around the world and be utterly happy.

Good luck with your return to redneck roots :D

Wendy said...

Well, I don't want to go noodling. DO NOT WANT TO GO.

But I sit in my house in fancy-dan-ville sometimes and wish I lived in the country. And had some goats. And I feel wistful for the things I grew up with that my kids know nothing about.

I made my husband go to the rodeo twice. And almost cried when I realized I had managed to miss the pigs completely. (For an explanation of this:

Maybe I'll start putting away my pennies & coupon money. For some land someday.

The funny part is, my all-the-way-urban husband whose mom mowed the grass once when she was in her 30s because she had never done anything like that before, goes to visit my family and thinks it is SO COOL and wants to get some land, too. LOL

Bridgett said...

Ew, ew, ew. Missouri has a big kerfuffle going on about noodling. those who want it, those who want it to remain illegal, etc.

justusseven said...

Blog award alert!

=) Lori