A reflection of inspiration.
As I sit here today on a hot, quiet August afternoon on the bank of the pond with fishing rod laying by my side, my thoughts turn to how much I have changed, but how little the pond has changed over the years. I have owned this pond more than thirty years.
I am not an avid fisherman, but my son is and has always loved to fish. My grandfather loved to fish, and as a boy I enjoyed going with him but never quite developed his or my son's joy in it. I think sometimes things like the joy of fishing or hunting, skip a generation and then resurface in later descendants.
The pond lies near the center of my farm. Sitting here I can see no house, nor cars, nor any other sign of human life or progress. Enjoying this quiet solitude, were it not for a rare distant airplane flying by, it could just as easily be 1908 as it is 2008. Time seems to stand still here.
The pond has changed little over the last thirty years. Some trees have died and others have grown to take their place. Some of the same logs my son and I fished by still lie just under the surface of the clear water. The underwater rock ledges are still there that we discovered while swimming to cool ourselves on hot summer days. These are home for the perch, bass, and blue gill.
There is an old homemade diving board still standing at one end of the dam, and an old cable lying half-submerged under water and mud, that once stretched across the small pond before I owned it. A friend told me as a boy sixty years ago he remembers he and his friends would gather at the pond and dive off that now long unused board and slide out on the cable and drop off in the middle of the pond. In my mind as I sit here today I can clearly see and hear their laughter as they enjoyed what must have been a special gathering place for them before the electronic age of televisions, computers, malls, and movies.
I could share many stories about the pond with you, but I chose only to share a couple of them with you now.
It was April 1 and very cold the day my teenage children and I discovered that a heifer having her first calf had waded into the pond about twenty feet from shore as a natural instinct to relieve the pain from birthing. All we could see was her nose, ears, and eyes above the water. Without hesitation I stripped and waded out into icy water to the heifer, pushing her as close to shore as I could. Feeling under water, I discovered the head and front feet of the unborn calf. Much to my surprise the head moved, and I realized it was still alive.
My son built a fire, and my daughter went for old towels. I reached under the surface and quickly slipped a short piece of rope around the protruding feet of the unborn calf. After taking a deep breath, I went under the frigid water. Holding the rope tightly, I placed my feet on the heifer's hips and pushed with my legs and pulled with my arms. Out popped a live calf. I tossed it on the bank, and my children warmed and dried it by the fire as I stood shivering by the fire also with just a tattered towel wrapped around me.
With the help of a neighbor we were able to pull the cow out of the pond. Both cow and calf were saved.
Sometimes we would catch grasshoppers early in the morning while they were slow to move. Usually this was done on Sunday morning before church, because we did not have time to do any real work, and we could not go fishing or we would enter God's house smelling of fish. Armed with our mason jar we would catch fifteen or twenty of the yellow grasshoppers that lived on the sunflowers by the barn. We would then go to the pond and toss them in one at a time, or if it was close to church time, many at once. As soon as they hit the surface of the pond and began to kick for the safety of the shore, the blue gill, perch, and bass would snap them up for their Sunday breakfast. If a strong kicking grasshopper was lucky enough to make it to shore, we might catch it and throw it back in. But if one made it to shore by what we called cunning, we let it live. That is to say if we threw it in and it just lay on the water without kicking so as not to attract the fish to it, and then every once in awhile give just a little kick to propel it toward a reed or lily pad, then stop as if it knew a fish was lurking under it. When the patient grasshopper made it to safety in this sly way, it was spared. This seems quite ridiculous as I doubt grasshoppers have a brain or much instinct for survival, but it was fun for us and the fish. As a farmer I had little compassion for the grasshopper.
Being located near the center of the farm, my son and I had to pass the pond going to do our farm work. We always had a couple of rods and reels in the pickup, and my son would inevitably say, as we passed the pond, "Dad, let's try a couple of casts to see if they are biting." This would soon turn into, "Dad, let's see who can catch the most" or "Dad, let's see who can catch the biggest." After we had wasted far too much time, the last line would always be, "Just one more cast, Dad. Okay?"
I regret the use of the words "wasted time." That is how I saw it then, but as I sit here today and think back, it was a precious time.
I have no idea when this pond was built, probably about 100 years ago. The sole purpose for a farm pond is to water livestock, but as you can see it often becomes much more.
I pity the man that has no pond. I also feel sorry for the man that has no son to share the pond with.
My son has three lovely daughters, but no sons. I hope that my theory of the love of fishing sometimes skipping generations is true.
In a few years I will be too feeble to come here, or perhaps I will have passed on to another level of existence. I hope by then my son has a grandson, and he sits in this very spot with rod and reel by his side and hears these wonderful words ring in his ears, "Gramps, just one more cast, okay?"
Dedicated to my son, Will
WC -- 1179