April’s transition from winter to spring often brings photographic opportunities, especially with early morning fog which seems to cling to open water. With a long lens, from about a quarter mile distance, I watched this man load his fishing gear and his dog in a rowboat and head out onto the Cross River Reservoir into a fog so thick you could almost taste the pea soup. Why on earth would anyone do this? Here’s their story.
Turns out the man’s name was Homer, and his dog was Argos.
You can imagine how many unkind nicknames Homer endured growing up, and in the sixth grade he just started calling himself Harry, and by high school most everyone went along. Harry was the only child of two college professors, his father an astrophysicist, and his mother taught classical literature. Obviously, his mom held more sway in his naming. Totally absorbed in their ivory tower pursuits, the parents were kind of distant with Harry. Kind and distant. There was no TV in the household and so for entertainment, Harry’s mother would regularly recite tales of the ancient Greeks and Romans on summer afternoons to Harry and some of the neighborhood kids.
Harry didn’t have a lot of friends as a kid – his best friend being Argos, a 50-pound mutt of questionable heritage. Argos was Harry’s constant companion, gladly following him everywhere an adventurous ten-year-old could go in Westchester, NY. As a matter of fact, Harry always had had a dog named Argos, from earliest childhood, all the way to now. Sometimes a girl pup, sometimes a boy, but the dog was always named Argos – not Argos the second, or Argos the fourth, just Argy for short. Current Argy, equally loyal and smart as all his forbears, was rescued from a shelter up in north central New York near Ithaca. And, as was always the case saving incarnations of Argos at shelters, the dogs always picked Harry, rather than the other way around. While all the other mutts were barking and wagging, Argos would sit calmly in his or her cage, catch Harry’s eye, and, never wavering the canine stare, Harry would be smitten.
Harry’s fishing gear was decades old but looked like it was new out of the box. When Harry and Argy went fishing together, rarely was the equipment put to use. And even more infrequently did a fish leave the water. Fishing was more a time for pondering the issues of their lives, big and small. Harry ruminating, or talking out loud, about the twists and turns of life and Argy offering his point of view with an encouraging dog smile, eyes intently meeting his human’s, ears perked, and head tilted, trying to translate Harry’s mental meanderings into dog dialect.
Today Harry was thinking about money. The markets were substantially down, and customers were ringing his phone off the hook with their worries and questions. Harry was good at reassuring his clients. Harry’s talent was to make sure his clients’ risk tolerances were clearly identified and managed, but it was still the kind of work he didn’t enjoy. What was really preoccupying Harry was not the markets’ current direction, but his own journey, the twists and turns, the choices and inertias that had landed him here and now.
How could a child who loved The Odyssey, Beowulf and especially Milton and Shakespeare, how could someone with a doctorate in classical literature wind up being in charge of investing hundreds of millions of dollars of other peoples’ money? Looking back, Harry could see it was true what the poet said, “that way leads on to way,” and it was clear that you rarely ever come back to remake a directional decision. With regret, he always knew he’d taken the road more travelled.
At this point Harry looked over at Argy who was fixing him with a meaningful doggy stare, mildly chiding him for this habit of spending so much time in the past. Then Argy got up from his perch in the rowboat, nails clicking on the aluminum flooring, sat beside Harry and rested his substantial head on Harry’s knee. Argy gave out a deep sigh, closed his eyes and with immense patience and understanding, let Harry know that all was well, right here and right now.