A Fishy Halloween

Something happens in the fall, when the first bite of winter air enters the atmosphere. The change in colors and the shortening of days trips a switch and nature’s fangs comes out. Underwater, the rush to pack on calories before the world freezes over has begun.

As a fly fisherman in Minnesota, the beginning of fall also brings the end of stream trout season. Appropriately, just as Halloween is around the corner, my focus shifts to toothier quarry. My 3x tippets get swapped for steel leaders and bushy streamers take the place of minute dry flies. Instead of watching patiently for a fish to sip the fly underwater, I brace for 20 inches of pure muscle to try and mutilate whatever I’ve offered. It’s a different kind of thrill, and a bit of an acquired taste, like boxing or watching defensive lineman work. Northerns seems more intent on killing the fly than eating it; even once they’ve been landed, they’re more than happy to take a piece out of my hand in revenge. The first time I looked inside a northern’s mouth, and saw the rows and rows of teeth covering the upper jaw, I had a glimpse of how terrifying it must be to be a minnow. A house of horrors indeed.

In the fall, I begin to understand again, why some fishermen devote all of their time to chasing giant predators. It’s a giant game of trick-or-treat, although the fish always gets the trick, and we always get the treat. And just like trick-or-treating, the big fish of the genus Esox provide enough of a scare to make the leg work worth it.

 

Trout and Cast Iron?

The delightfully witty episcopal priest, Robert Farrar Capon, once praised the wedding service in The Book of Common Prayer for being full of “death and cast iron.” I love the poetry of that description, and I hope, when people look back on my life and work, they can say (with slight modification), “Now, Kristofer Coffman, there’s a man whose life was full of trout and cast iron.” For me, to be full of trout and cast iron means to be full of the edges in this world where the beauty of God’s creation meets the stark fight for survival. It means to be full of things that take grease and care and last a lifetime. It’s not a way to save yourself or to improve your credit score, but it is a life of learning new things and taking old things seriously.

This blog is  about church history,  Bible translation, preaching, and all the other assorted things that make up my life as an almost pastor and a would be academic. To be honest, there will be nothing really new here; but, there will be a lot of old things that I think have been overlooked for too long, to the detriment of American Lutheranism. And because words are my chosen medium, this blog is also an exercise in learning to write. In A Movable Feast, Ernest Hemingway said that when he sat down to write, he started by trying “to write one true sentence.” This blog is my own personal effort to write one true sentence. Thanks for coming along. In the words of the inimitable, Rob Gronkowski, “Stay hyped.”

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