I've been considering the idea that everything in our worlds must be understood within the context of something else in order to be truly grasped.

Once when I was a kid, I remember seeing a picture of a fishing lure in a fishing magazine my dad had. The lure was photographed next to a quarter coin. It struck me at the time what a good idea that was. Everybody knows what a quarter is, so the lure by comparison, had practical context.

So, now with the rest of my world it seems. Scale is more important than ever. I am trying to apply it so as not to minimize those I love, but to expand the room around them. Architects, good ones anyway, understand scale. A massive fireplace in a room with 20' high walls. A clock as tall as a man, a narrow hallway or a short ceiling... they all have their way of making you see in a new way, or feel something.

It's a spiritual discipline, I think. Scale isn't about eliminating what we are not happy with, but holding that thing next to something known. I'm trying to know (again) a bigger picture.

Who knows why, maybe the jolt of nearly dying or the troubles of so many things I'd be better off not knowing... but the world got really small suddenly. The troubles, by comparison, too big. Stepping into that room with the 20' high walls sort of takes your breath away, and then gives it back again.

Last week I took Mei An fishing. It is a well known lake around here with big fat German brown trout and planted rainbows. We were one of two boats. She trolled for a while as I rowed the dingy around. Not much action, but I knew we'd see some fish as the sun got lower. Sure enough, Mei An got bored and I took the flyrod out and began casting a bug that looked like something that had just landed on her arm.

Teeny little world, the world of dry flies. Whissssshhhh whisssshhh. The line whipped back and forth. The fly landing like a piece of lint on our floor. Lightly. And as I looked up over the tip of my rod, there was scale. The 50 yard stretch of glass water ending at two boulders... and just above it, a black bear. He was not huge, a juvenile, but he rippled with strength as he moved up onto the rocks and down to lap at the lake.

Mei An and I watched his every move. We missed several bites on the now drowned fly. Then the bruin ambled up toward a cabin, presumably to root through the garbage, an easier meal than shoreline fish.

We did catch a couple fish, eventually. The ospreys caught a lot more, and dragged their trophies over our heads by only 15 feet or so. Showoffs! But that too was a bigger picture than anything that worries me throughout the day. Scale for sure.

When we got home, the fish were a sub-story for Mei An. It was all about the bear. At the edge of a glassy lake with the whisssshh whissssssh of fly line and ospreys kaplunking into the shallows and yelling, (or was it laughing) at us.

More than once that evening I lost, and then got back, my breath.