Twice a year for the past 20, I grow a beard. At least I attempt to grow something that could be considered the beginning of a beard. I call it my steelhead beard and I usually start around September 1st for our fall season on the Great Lakes and February 1st for the spring season.
It’s a ritual that I do because it just makes me feel better about that unreliable transition period between seasons and for whatever reason, makes those couple of weeks bearable. I had to shave it once prematurely due to a wedding that I was standing in. The mother of the groom approached me the day before and informed me under no uncertain terms that the beard would be off by Saturday noon. I told her I can’t do that. I haven’t caught a steelhead yet and I won’t get fishing before the wedding. After some negotiations, we came to terms; I shaved the beard and she allowed us to keep the TV on in the lobby to watch the Red Sox and the Yankee’s in the 2004 ALCS. It worked out ok because I’m a huge Sox fan (which makes me a Yankee’s hater) but I never really felt good about my first Steelhead of 2004. It was just a bit cheapened.
That’s what rituals or superstitions do to us; they provide a little something to cling to when needed. In the case of my beard ritual, it also provides me with a great reason to fish as my beautiful wife absolutely despises it. She’s actually asked me on numerous occasions. “When are you going to land a steelhead and get rid of that ridiculous thing?” I think I’ll keep her.