Fishing on a foggy lake. A man and his son dream.
Not Really Fishing
The boy skewered the worm with the hook and tossed it into the water with one hand. The boat rocked in recoil. Small waves from the boat met tiny ones from the baited float, slapping them before merging with the stillness of the lake.
The boy watched the red, white, and blue float bobbing vertically in the water like a barber’s pole. Hoping for a sudden dip that would indicate a fish falling for his trap, he shut everything else out. Minutes went by in a timeless realm of complete absorption to one detail. Nothing changed and he entered another world.
The pole became a baton and he was leading a marching band through the streets of a great city. Wearing a blue uniform with gold braid and a matching hat, he raised and lowered the baton across his chest, enticing the oomp of tubas, the boom of drums, and the tweet of flutes to match in volume the roar of the adoring crowd. Kaleidoscope confetti and ribbons rained down and garlands of sweet smelling flowers were tossed at his feet. Girls blew kisses his way and friends were waving their caps in the air.
The man looked at his son. Recognizing the foolish grin on his face, he smiled. “Hey, Joey. I think you’ve got something nibbling on your worm.”
The boy, shocked by the sudden intrusion, jerked his fishing rod up, frightening the fish away. He lifted the line all the way out of the water to check if the worm was still attached. Seeing that most of it was, he lowered it back into the lake. “Dad, don’t scare me like that. I knew the float was moving.”
“Oh, you did, huh? Well, I got a feeling there ain’t much fish here. I’m gonna row us over closer to the shore.”
The man rowed the boat a while and then let it glide. He sat at the back of the boat with one oar in his hand, and looked past his son into the mist hanging over the steel gray water. Swirling up and over the slow moving boat, it fascinated the man. He thought he saw things moving in the fog, but he knew there was nothing out there. Yet, he tried to make out their shapes. Dreamily, he stared.
The oar became a magical sword. He gripped the jeweled handle in a scarlet gloved hand. The steel glinted in joy for the coming battle. He took a deep breath; the muscles of his chest bulged the prancing red lion emblazoned on his undercoat as the smell of wet vegetation indicated land was near. He narrowed his eyes and clenched his jaws. In the bow of the boat his trusted hobbit was guiding him to a rendezvous with a seditious knight. His queen had been abducted and he would avenge the blasphemy. He could just make out a dark castle ahead in the fog. Hearing the evil warning caws of crows, he raised his sword.
The boat scraped the bottom of the lake, shoving the man and the boy forward. “Dad, what are you doing? Didn’t you hear me yelling to stop?”
“Sorry, I was thinking about something. Anyway, we were going slow, so nothing happened.”
“Dad, we almost never catch anything. Are fish smart?”
“I guess all the dumb ones got caught long ago.”
“So, only the smart ones are left?”
“Yeah, and that’s why you gotta study hard and learn a lot of things in school, or you’ll be like the ones that get eaten.”
“Yeah, I know Dad, but thanks for reminding me.”
The man smiled and nodded.
“Dad? You know, I like fishing even if we don’t catch anything.”
“Me, too. To quote a poet, ‘Tis not what lurks within the waters that fishing hooks, but that which relaxation awakes in thy mind.’”
The boy dumped the bait into the lake, “Huh?”
The man chuckled, tousled the boy’s hair, and said, “Never mind, Hobbit.”