Remembering a child life and then passing it on to my daughter.
|I remember the simpler times in New York. These were my early teen years in summer. The time of year my father would drop me off at Lake Deforrest on his way to work. I had a favorite place to fish. It was tucked away and once there, I could not be seen from the road.
It was marked posted and no trespassing. I fished it anyway because I would never see another person and it was quiet and peaceful. I had six or seven poles and an equal amount of rod holders. I would bait them up for carp and I would begin to work on a live well for keeping them alive.
I would arrange rocks in about eight or ten inches of water in a semi circle about four to six feet across. I would have bells on the rods so I wouldn't miss a strike. Often I would still be plugging holes in my man made holding tank when I would hear the sweet sound I longed for.
I would hurry and add a few more stones plugging the obvious spots and then hustle back to the rods. Often I would arrive to find one doubled over in the holder. Carp are nothing more then the proverbial "bull in the china shop." Their fight holds no acrobatics or leaps, just pure power. The initial run was hard but they would tire quickly.
In no time I would slip a hand around the gills and lift the yellow prize from the water. I would unhook and carry the fish to the live well, feel around once more for gaps and then release him into the pool. They were not table fare for me or for my family.
I would add fresh bait to the line and cast once more. I would spend my summer that way hour after hour, day following day. The summers passed easily. My father would return a little before dark each day. He would sit and watch me fish and we would talk. He never complained about the heat even though he was in long pants and a dress shirt.
He would always park in an elementary school a few hundred yards away so as to never give up my spot. We talked a little and I learned a lot. I learned about his life growing up. How he would take a row boat out on Peach Lake and troll for perch or bass all summer long. I know his love of fishing was passed from him to me.
I remember his pipe. It was a sweet smell. He usually favored a black cherry or Captain Black. He would puff thoughtfully and watch as I maintained the lines. Sometimes I would switch over a rod for bass and cast top water for a change of pace. He loved watching me cast. I could put the lure anywhere I wanted it.
We would tell fish stories, and sometimes he would be there for the beginning of a "new" fish story as I caught or lost a big one. As it got dark he would help me reel the lines in. As I brought the last one or two in he would head for the car carrying my tackle box and a few poles.
I would net the fish in the live well. I would keep count and smile to myself as I confirmed no fish escaped from my human ingenuity. We would take them to a local Chinese restaurant and I would barter them for free food. I had fifteen or twenty restaurants I was welcome at.
My mother didn't have to cook in the summer. She worked hard in those lean years. I would give her a menu or two and have her circle exactly what she wanted me to bring home the night before. I was the youngest of my family and yet I provided dinner most every night. It was empowering and I felt I pulled my weight back then.
My brothers would complain while they mowed the lawn or helped around the house. I was left alone to fish. They didn't worry about strangers or human predators. I had respect for the water and knew how to stay out of trouble. It was an easy way of life for me.
I take my daughter fishing now. I have taught her how to make a live well. She calls it a beaver dam. It's the same as the ones I used to build, but it has a different purpose. It's entertainment now and not used to hold anything.
Last week we went striper fishing. I surprised her and asked her if she would like Chinese food. After the lake we stopped at the local restaurant. I smiled as I took her to the back door.
I waved away her comment of "this is never going to work." I laughed at the shocked expression on her face, and admonished her that we do not say "score" to the owner of the restaurant after a successful trade.
She's a believer now and for me, there's just a little bit of magic left from the old days when life was a little bit simpler.