My Mind

My Mind
This is my mind

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A fish tale

One summer morning I walked out of the house hearing the sharp slam of the screen door behind me.
"Don't slam that door!" my grandmother said. 
"Yes'm," I replied as my pace picked up and I ran down the porch stairs.  Looking around the yard shaded by a huge weeping willow toward the back I stepped under a limb beneath the china berry tree closest to the house and grabbed the limb above me pulling myself up to my chin then swinging out onto the grass that was in need of a trim.
Rex and Ginger, Clyde's two dogs, were lying on the porch waiting on me to make up my mind as to what to do on this fine summer morning. School had let out for the next three  months and this was my first day to do exactly what I wanted to do without thought of books or teachers or bells telling me to take out my geography which I thought was the dullest book in school.
Top of Form
As I looked around trying to decide what to do with my newly found freedom a couple of honeybees buzzed past in search of pollen. They zigzagged here and there soon finding a patch of clover blossoming in a splash of sunlight. I ran over and dropped to my knees checking to see if I could find any four leaf clovers but I didn't see any. 
It was early and the sun was just beginning to warm the air around me. I walked over to my granddad's bait box and dug into the loam for worms. They were close to the top and felt cool and liquid against my palms. I freed several from the loam and watched them wiggle and crawl around in my hand. Seeing them brought to mind fishing and I looked around for one of granddad's poles. 
They were laid along the rafters in the garage. They lay just as they had been placed with the string wrapped around them and the hooks embedded in the bobbing cork. Maybe I could reach them I thought. I jumped several times in an attempt to jostle one free but they were on the rafters over 6 feet high and my best jump missed by 3 feet at the best of jumps. 
That's not going to work, I thought, plus granddad might not take to kindly to one of his poles being used without permission.      
All of a sudden this day's purpose was born of an idea. I'll get my own pole, I thought. I commenced to running around the yard in search of a long stick that I could tie string to. There was nothing. So I looked up at the branches on the willow and the Chinaberry tree. To no avail since I had no knife to cut one with. Well, I thought, maybe I can toss a line in like we do when crabbing. So a new hunt began for string. 
 I ran into the house the screen slamming loudly followed by "Don't slam the screen door!" from my grandmother. 
"Yes'm!" I yelled back. 
I began looking through all the drawers and under the furniture until my grandmother came in to see what all the ruckus was about.
 "Rickey what are you doing?" she said wiping her hands on the dishtowel she carried with her. 
"I'm looking for some string and I need it real bad." 
"Come along child. I know where some is. What are you going to do with your string?" 
"I'm going to catch some fish for dinner tonight, just like granddad does." 
"Where in the world are you going to catch any fish?" She asked with a laugh.
 "Why over at the pond on the golf course." 
"Oh, well I better get the skillet ready for your return." 
"Yes'm, you better." 
"Here you go. Is that long enough?" 
"Yes ma'am. That's plenty long enough," and I took the string admiring its sturdiness and clean white sheen.
"What will you use for a hook?" 
"A hook?" I was stunned. I hadn't thought about a hook. "I guess I'll have to go to the store and get one."
 "What will you use for money?" grandmother asked. 
"Uh, I got some pennies in my pocket. How much do they cost?" 
"Well, I don't rightly know but I'm sure you'll need more than a few pennies." 
"Maybe there's some under the cushions." I ran into the front room and began rummaging under the seat cushions on the couch and chairs. Nothing. "Gosh, I don't know. Guess I won't go fishing." 
"There're a couple of things you could do for me. Maybe a quarter's worth. A quarter should buy a hook for fishing." 
I carried the garbage out to the trashcan, filled up the dog's water bowl and pulled weeds for a while.The sun was getting higher and the heat was getting hotter while I sweated in the flower garden pulling weeds. 
"I think that should be enough. Here's your quarter and a glass of water to cool off." 
"Thank you grandmomma, but if I'm gonna get any fish today I gotta go now." 
 I grabbed my bike and jumped into the saddle to peddle my Columbia bike up to the Greek's and find some fishing supplies.Back then Maybank Highway wasn't the raceway it is today and I slowed at the corner of Stono Shores and Maybank looking both ways to be sure no one was coming. It was safe so I shot across the road and turned at Golfview up to the end angling to the left and sailing along the road heading for the Terrace. I whizzed past the Piggly Wiggly, whipped right, slipping past Jack's filling station and up to the pink grocery store. I leaned my bike against the wall and run up the stairs and into the aisles checking for fishing gear.
 Over in the corner was a counter, which had a few things for an old cane pole bobbing corks, sinkers and hooks. Well, I thought, guess I'll be needing a sinker and a cork as well as a hook. I checked out the price and those three items came to close onto twenty-five cents. 
"Yay!" I yelled. "I got it!" 
The clerk looked at me like I'd lost my mind. I grabbed my items and headed to the counter. 
"Looks like somebody's going fishing," said the man behind the counter as he took my items and ringing them up on the cash register. 
"Yep, gonna catch a mess o' fish for dinner tonight." 
"Sounds like you'll be eatin' good tonight. Wish I didn't have to work so I could go fishing on a day like this." 
"Yes sir!" I said as I took the bag he'd dropped my gear into and ran out the store. Up on my bike and peddling hard I flew like the wind back to the house to get some worms.
The sun was getting hotter and the air still and humid. I leaned into the driveway and jumped from my bike allowing it to slink to the ground as I made my way to the back yard bait box. I grabbed a handful of fat wriggly worms and shoved them into my pocket. With slimy loamy hands I clutched my bag and ran across the neighbor's yards to the pond sitting in the shade of tall pines. 
As I walked from the edge of the road into the shaded area I found a stick, which would prove to be the perfect pole to tie my string on. I sat at the edge of the pond across from the small utility house at the other end of the square pond. At the narrow end of the stick I tied my bright white cord in a strong square knot, which I'd just learned about in scouts. I lay the stick down and the freshly tied line dipped into the pond water while I pulled out my hook. 
With eyes crossed and tongue twisted in concentration, I attempted to slip the cord through the eye of the hook. After several tries and a quick shake of the head to right my crossed eyes I had achieved my goal. Once again a square knot held my hook securely. 
Time to slide on the cork and the sinker, which was done quite easily and I was ready to bait it. I stood up to make it easy to grab a worm in my pocket. It wiggled and slipped from my grasp so I reached in for another. This one I successfully hooked. The line swung over the water as I picked up the pole. It dropped with a ploosh. The worm slipped down into the dark water invisible to me. I sat in heart stopping anticipation. 
A minute. 
Five minutes. 
And then it happened. The cork bobbed. I stood up to brace myself for the fight of boy against nature. I yanked it upward.  The line sailed up into the air as I fell back onto the damp grass. 
The line was dripping but empty. 
No fish.
No worm.
 No hook. 
What happened to my hook?
 Deflated I lay back on the sloping ground, pole in the air with corked and leaded string dripping slimy water into my face. 
My hook was gone. 
My quarter was gone. 
I had worms in my pocket and a stick void of dreams. No fish dinner tonight. No struggle of boy and nature to acquire fish tonight. All because of a crummy square knot that acted like a slipknot. 
I tossed my make shift fishing pole onto one of the boards crisscrossing the pond and walked off. Trudging on the hot pavement in defeat back to Clyde's backyard. Then I heard my grandmother calling so I ran to where a peanut butter and jelly sandwich waited for me to be followed by a Popsicle on this hot first day of summer vacation so many years ago in the Terrace.

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