Robert U. Montgomery

Hugs Are Important Too

I was forced to violate social distancing by a 96-year-old woman.

Even though the local senior center is closed to the public because of Covid-19 concerns, it's open for preparation of Meals on Wheels, and I've continued to deliver meals.

Dorothy Gouin, who turned 96 in March, continues to go in each day as a volunteer. We've been friends since I started volunteering more than 9 years ago. Last year, I wrote a book---
Nourishing the Soul--- about her and the value of volunteerism to benefit the center and Meals on Wheels program.

Today, after I dropped off meal carriers and was heading out, she approached and held her arms out.

"Really?" I asked.

"Yes," she replied, and we embraced.

That's when I realized that I needed a hug just as much as she did.


First Kiss!

We had just moved to a new town and the girl across the street invited me over to play a board game. I don’t even remember the game, probably because of stress-related shock. What I do remember is that, suddenly and without warning, an 8-year-old Lolita named Susie leaned across the board and kissed me.

Then, her mother compounded the crime by telling my mother, who told my father. The humiliation seemed never-ending, although, in hindsight, I think that it lasted only one long weekend.

By my eleventh birthday I had recovered enough to live at least a semi-normal life. It helped that we moved again. This time the girl across the street from our new house gave me a silver dog tag with my name on it. “Uh, oh,” a friend told me. “You know what that means, don’t you?”

Excerpt from "Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice" in
Under the Bed: Tales From an Innocent Childhood.

first kiss (1)

What You Should Know About Taking Kids Fishing


First, and foremost, the primary goal for a young child going fishing is to have fun--- not catch fish. Some adults have trouble remembering that.

Take them to a pond, lake, or small stream where the panfish are plentiful, and fish with live bait and the simplest of gear, such as a cane pole or spincast outfit. Also take a bucket or two, and maybe some jars with holes in their lids. Don’t try to fish yourself. If you do, you’ll just get frustrated. Your full attention should be on being a teacher.

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Taking Home Another Lost Dog

For the second time in a little more than six months, I took a lost dog home.

In the aftermath this time, the interior of my car is awash in Husky hair.

He latched onto Pippa and me this morning, about a mile from home. I had Pippa on a leash at the time because we were around houses on a paved road, with possible traffic. But he liked her and she liked him, and I could tell that they would play, given the opportunity.


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Speed Trap . . . Slow Down!

Speed Trap . . . Slow Down!

slow down

This blind worship at the altar of speed bleeds into every aspect of our lives, especially for our children. Because we’ve learned we don’t have to wait, we dart recklessly in and out of traffic, cutting in front of other cars so we can launch from a stoplight one second before they do. We have no patience for waiting in lines, common courtesy, or even listening.

That’s why the attention span of students grows progressively shorter. That’s why movies must contain explosions, car chases, and gun battles if they expect to succeed at the box office. That’s why print media are on the decline, and that’s also why participation in fishing flattened in some states and declined in others during the first decade of the 21st century.

Actually “wait” for a fish to bite? No thank you!

Tournament angling has helped keep the sport vital, through its emphasis on faster boats and the need to cover as much water as possible during the hours of competition. Anglers “burn” spinnerbaits. Tackle innovators create reels with higher and higher gear ratios to speed retrieves even more. ESPN and other cable networks glamorize fishing events with helicopter coverage and heart-pounding music.

Am I a tournament angler? No, I am not. Competitors must put their fish in the boat as quickly and efficiently as possible. I like to play with mine, to watch them jump and tail-walk and, yes, sometimes throw the bait. If anything, I am the un-tournament angler.

I certainly do recognize the many contributions tournament fishermen have made to the sport, ranging from boat and tackle innovations to creation of a vocal constituency that finances and promotes conservation of our natural resources. I am an ardent supporter of fishing tournaments and happy to share the water with them.

Still, I believe faster is not always the best way in fishing, and from that I’ve learned it isn’t always the best way in life either. Those who don’t see that miss out on the many pleasures of the journey, as they focus single-mindedly on the destination. We each have only a limited amount of time in this life. Why rush it?

(Excerpt from the essay "Speed Trap . . . Slow Down" in
Why We Fish.)