In my young adulthood, my parents went through a rough patch. Call it empty nest, or mid-life, things were testy and sad. It was made worse by the fact that a ‘family friend’ took the opportunity to woo mum away. I wasn’t impressed. Some friend. Yuck. I consider my response to it all to have been ‘principled.’ I was doubly offended because, during the throes of it, the ‘friend’ hit on me, at the local bar.  Double yuck. Then my parents split and my mother married him. Fortunately, the divorce didn’t take, and a few years later, my parents reunited.

I may not have baggage, but I have my own way to carry a grudge. Some might disagree. During that brief, interim marriage, I made my peace with the situation on my own terms.

It all started with the smelt run. Nobody in town had ever seen them run like that before. We were pulling them out of the stream in five gallon buckets. At the time I was living with a Native American fellow, who was wildly into natural foraging. He did not need a license for fishing, and he loved to do it. So much smelt!

My sister deep-fried a bunch of it and we had a big feast. Then we processed and pickled it. We were young and poor and this was free protein. I delivered a smaller bucket of pickled smelt to my Mum. She was thrilled. On homemade bread, with a smear of cheese and onion…this is heaven–gourmet food for near-free! Admittedly, there was a lot of it.

It was a small town. I heard through the grapevine that the fish gift was not so well received by my step-father, though he never said a word to me. Apparently the man hated fish. But he was cheap. Cheap enough that he would never turn down a free meal. I held my tongue about what I’d learned.

My boyfriend and I foraged and fished all that summer. It was splendid. And, we were generous with our catch. We probably had excess fish, two or three times a week. It got to the point where I could see my stepfather visibly cringe when we pulled up in our truck. We brought berries, too, but not nearly so frequently as we brought the catch of the day.

I take no credit for the fact that the marriage didn’t last. But I note that the saying may be true, revenge is a dish, best served cold. Or hot, with lemon and grilled onions. 


C’mon, who wouldn’t trust fish from such an enthusiastic, fresh face?