Summer is here, the primary indicator, watermelon, bright, sweet and beautiful in markets. Beach accessories tempt us in every store, at least the stores that will let us spend our money in their establishment. One annoying aspect under the WuHan restrictions is that the guy or girl that had been a box handler, assistant janitor or bagger and now is in charge of compliance with their stores’ interpretation of the restriction rules. One local market had only a mask requirement up until two weeks ago, before the latest surge in confirmed cases. Then seemingly out of nowhere, you had to wear a mask and wait in line, staying six feet apart (AKA social distancing-that which we did on our own when a person with a severe soap-use policy stank his way down the aisle. P.U.) People, read potential customers, turned tail and drove to the nearest competitor market with a more reasonable policy. Perhaps the olive store should send some of their baggers out in public to the monitor the great unwashed, those of us who have learned a lot about keeping ones self from contracting the WuHan virus.
Watermelon being the chief chief indicator of summer, as well as ripe cherries, berries, sun screen and the impending Fourth of July celebration. A magical day for Americans, do they have Fourth of July in England? Outdoor activities are welcoming with open arms, word is that some states are stemming some outdoor activities, like rafting is a critical sport? Camping, fishing, sports that use balls, picnics and bike rides shout ‘summer!’
A visit to Cotati’s Outdoor Pro, recently reopened, reawakened the shock and awe of a store that covers the sport like no other. Among the acres of hooks, lures, poles, lines and related equipment are a staff that actually fish. Every department has an employee who way understands his sport. Catching Anthony Mirviss coming out onto the sales floor was a stroke of good luck, netting a lunker is one way to put it. Anthony excitedly explained his passion for bass fishing, “I love Clear Lake! I can catch fish any time of the year but summer is best. Bass gotta eat every day. The trick is to find out what is on the menu and flip that in front of their nose.” He explained the flip, jiggle, wiggle, pull, jerk and dive methods of bass fishing. “Clear Lake is going nuts right now! The most important things in my life are my girlfriend, my family and fishing. I’m off Saturday and I am pumped right now, I’m heading up early to fish. Let me go get my favorite bass lure for this weekend.” He took off as only a young, athletic guy can do when he is focused on something. It is hard to overstate Anthony’s enthusiasm. He brought back a small frog that looked more like a Las Vegas show frog, blindingly white with a shiny tinsel tail and recessed double hooks. “You flip-cast this baby right where you think Mr. bass is, never mind the weeds.” He explained the enclosed double hook, a brilliant device that will not get hung up in the weeds, “...wait for that explosion when a mad bass attacks! Working here is an extension of my love, every department has a passionate guy that really knows what he is talking about, fly fishing, Bass, Tuna, Blue Marlin and exotic trips are a few. You pay a bit more here because we have so many people who are eager to share their passion. The store is always packed with merchandise to get customers the right stuff in their hands. They leave excited and loaded with the knowledge imparted by our guys.”
Later, a trip to the Sportsmen's Warehouse on Rohnert Park’s Redwood Drive, next to In and Out Burgers. The store sets a standard in outdoor sports equipment, a fantastic camping department. They have a comprehensive hunting department, clothing, shoes and a big fishing department. All the sales people were busy with customers, but a tiny voice was yacking away. In front of feathers and furs a cute little boy, Zeke, age four fingers, was shopping with his dad, Jason Stewart age proud-dad. Little Zeke was painfully shy at first but kicked into gear as he explained how he and dad were going cat fish’n. “I been prac’asing in the yard! I’m getting really good at it.” He said proudly. I asked if he caught any cats in the yard. Zeke looked at me like I was a talking donkey. Then he was off again explaining things to his dad and I. You could hear his little voice away as they made their way through the store. His dad said his first fish was caught at age two, a three-inch Blue Gill. “He grabbed the fish so quick that the fishes lips were still on the hook. He said, “Hurry dad, let’s eat it!”
Bill Hanson is a Sonoma County native and a lifelong sportsman. He is the former president of the Sonoma County Mycological Association. Look for his column in The Community Voice each week.