A Stanley Brand Ambassador, in the summer, McKenna Peterson captains a commercial salmon fishing boat. Come winter, she is a professional big mountain skier traveling the world in search of big lines and soft snow.
A Mother’s Lessons In Fishing And Health
I am a commercial fisherman by trade, spending long summer days on the ocean in Alaska hunting and catching salmon. It is grueling yet rewarding work; the harvest of many pounds of fish to help feed the world. As the captain of my fishing operation, I make the decisions and hold the responsibility for my vessel and my crew. It is a high pressure, high stakes job where the stresses match the rewards.
My mother is a fly fisherman at heart, our family home is surrounded by abundant rivers that carve through unspoiled wilderness and empty desert plains. She finds peace in being outside, rain or shine, fish biting or not. Mom’s relationship with fishing is much different than my own. Fly fishing and commercial fishing have little in common. I applaud the catching. Mom revels the process. Our differing approaches to angling are comedically evident when we fish together at home in Idaho. I, very much the beginner, need to be constantly reminded to approach the river quietly and with intent. Mom says “let it fish”, in response to my impatient cast and re cast. She replaces my fly when lost and helps to untangle my line when I would rather just cut it off and start over. Always calm, collected and with a smile; classic mother behavior.
Since the world turned upside down and this pandemic became our new reality, I have been isolated at my mother’s house in Idaho. On March 17th, I started to feel sick. A headache and cough eventually progressed into crippling weakness, fever and fatigue. The sickness would come in waves, overwhelming my body as quickly as it would subside and then overwhelm again. Unexpected and severe. In a matter of days, my independent and confident lifestyle was capsized by fear and vulnerability. 32 years old; sick, scared and deeply confused about the future of our world, I am not feeling like the rugged captain of a fishing boat.
The beautiful thing about family being that love supersedes age and autonomy, I am grateful to be in my childhood home. With diligence not to become sick herself, mom is helping me to navigate the ups and downs of this strange sickness. She consoles my worry and untangles my angst, reminding me to be gentle with myself and approach this challenge with patience. The healing process feels just like fishing, mom’s way.
In between working from home, taking care of a sick daughter and being the rock of our family; mom escapes to the river. Our family text message chain has been flooded with photos of Rainbow Trout and German Browns, creek scenic and sunsets. It brings me joy to imagine my mother driving down dirt roads in the rain, looking for her secret fishing hole, excited for whatever the day will bring. She approaches the river calm, collected and always with a smile.