• warning: Parameter 2 to ed_classified_link_alter() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/soloneconomist/www/www/includes/common.inc on line 2968.
  • warning: Parameter 2 to ed_classified_link_alter() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/soloneconomist/www/www/includes/common.inc on line 2968.

Gene the plugger


One of the plusses of this past year is I made a new fishing buddy.
Gene and I met through the First Christian Church, in Coralville. During idle conversation, I learned he goes trout fishing regularly in Northeastern Iowa, and he invited me to join him for several trips last summer.
It didn’t take long to realize there’s something quirky and endearing about Gene. While driving to his favorite fishing holes, for example, he is on the constant look out for good rocks.
“There’s some nice rocks there,” he’d say with excitement and pointing to a pile of nondescript stones or, “Wait until you see the boulder around this corner!”
He’s also generous. A fly rod isn’t a requirement for trout fishing, at least at the holes we were hitting. The streams are narrow enough you can generally jump over them in one leap, if you are still young enough to leap. The babbling brooks are also often lined with trees, making it difficult to whip around a fly. But the pole’s extra length and stiffness helps you reach out and drop your bait in promising holes. I didn’t have one and Gene could see I was struggling with my short ultra-light. So on our second trip, he gave me one. The rod wasn’t cheap either, but Gene made it sound like no big deal.
“I can’t fish with two at the same time,” he said. “So you might as well have it.”
Gene is what I call a “plugger” because he just keeps on plugging along for the sheer satisfaction from, well, plugging along.
Not too long ago, he asked if he could borrow the trailer I own for hauling bicycles around on group trips.
“Sure, “ I said, and then asked, “What are you going to use it for?”
Not that it mattered, but I was curious. Stout and perpetually dressed in coveralls, I was pretty sure it wasn’t to take a crowd on a cycling trip.
He proceeded to tell me he and his son like to collect walnuts (or was it acorns?) and turn them in for cash. He estimated they picked up three or four hundred pounds. That sounded like a lot of work to me, so I asked him how much he got for the nuts.
“It varies,” he offered, “but about a quarter a pound.” This all sounded like a lot of work for little reward, but I did a quick calculation and offered a hundred bucks could come in handy.
“A hundred dollars!” Gene exclaimed. “I’m talking about four bits a pound after they’re shelled.”
That’s a plugger.
Anyhow, fishing with Gene proved to be a fun diversion last summer and I’m looking forward to going again this year. With the right pole and a little skill, we were able to limit out (10 trout each) on all of our forays. It also helps that Gene closely follows the stocking report as provided by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
Gene stopped by a couple weeks ago on his way to church and said he had some extra sand, motioning to a beat up and broken tube of it in the back of his pickup. He asked if Sabra might want it for our chickens.
For the uninitiated, I should explain that chickens eat sand or grit for two reasons: it aids the digestive process and the minerals become part of the eggshell. The grit doesn’t necessarily have to be sand, however, and some growers prefer oyster shell. I’m not sure, but I think Sabra gets imported organic shell from free-range oysters off the coast of Spain for our chickens. Nothing’s too good for our hens, but that’s another story told before.
I declined his offer but thought I saw his shoulder slump a little as I turned him down. As it turned out that day’s sermon was a riff on the old saw that it’s better to give than receive. Only in this sermon, it was noted that sometimes it was the gracious thing to receive. If everyone is giving, after all, someone has to take a turn receiving. So it got me feeling a little contrite and I sought Gene out after the service. “Gene,” I offered, “I guess I could use that tube of sand after all.”
Gene replied, “Tube, what tube? I was only offering you the sand.”