If you had asked me what I thought 2020 would be like around this time last year, I would have told you that it would have most likely been a typical year filled with lots of fishing, classes, trips, and that I’d be swinging flies for Steelhead somewhere in Idaho at this time. What a difference a year makes! 2020 has been the equivalent of a swift kick to the groin: shocking, confusing, and painful. Between COVID, the “Shut-Down”, being furloughed, and trying to adjust to this brave new world, I was extremely doubtful that I would be able to teach any classes this year, and worried about having a job at all.
Low and behold, the “Shut-Down” ended, and the world decided that this would be the year to go outside. The shop slowly re-opened its doors again in May, and I thought that I would be lucky to teach a class or two this season. Instead, the shop was the busiest I have ever seen in my 14 years of working there, and my classes and clinics were just as busy as a “normal” year. I was also very concerned that with the volatile political climate, and with people refusing to follow basic guidelines to keep others safe, that requiring masks and hand sanitizer would have turned people away from the shop and classes.
While the shop had to deal with its fair share of people who refused to follow protocols, my students and clients were absolute rock stars. All wore masks, even when on the water. We kept our distance, and used copious amount of hand sanitizer. Because all of my students followed these guidelines, were able to get through every class this year with no-one catching COVID, and I was able to keep my family safe. As the COVID cases continue to set new records daily, and having a housemate come down with COVID recently, I’m reminded just how fine the line we walk these days truly is.
I was hesitant to teach any classes at all this season, due to my wife being very susceptible to COVID, as well as the disabled client she cares for. While it was the most stressful season of classes I have ever taught, I was so grateful to have been able to have done them, thankful for how understanding and willing my students were to keep each other safe, and for taking time out of their lives to learn how to fly-fish with me. I was able to make a living doing what I love in the middle of a global Pandemic, and I have my students and clients to thank for that. Without you [students], I would not be able to continue to do what I do. Teaching and working kept my mind off the fear and unknown of the virus and brought a sense of normalcy to a world turned upside-down.
I have no clue what the next couple of months will bring-let alone what to expect for the next season. For now, I’m just happy that I got through this season, and I look forward to a new year filled with classes and clinics. Thank you again to all of you who helped make the most of this crazy year! It is one that will not soon be forgotten.