Friday, February 12, 2010

The Old Fishpond

    I spent at least a few years growing up in Buffalo, Missouri. A small town about 30 miles north of Springfield. My Dad bought a piece of land, built a small farm house, and moved all of us there to live. I was 11 years old at the time. I felt at home as soon as we moved in to our new place. I spent a lot of time exploring my new surroundings, each day covering new ground on the 16 or so acres of the property, which was mostly wooded with oak trees. One day while wandering through the woods I discovered a good sized pond. My first thought was, “there has to be fish in there”. As I  walked around the edge of the water  the surface began to come alive. As I was walking through the tall grass next to the edged, grasshoppers were jumping everywhere scattering to get out of my way. The grasshoppers were landing on the surface of the pond and being snapped up by fish, hundreds of them! I ran as fast as I could to get back to the house where my fishing pole was still packed up from the recent move. After explaining to my parents what I had discovered, I headed back down to the pond armed with my rod and my Zebco 202 reel. On my way back down I collected grasshoppers and put them in my pocket to use as bait. When I reached the pond, with my pants pocket almost full, I put the first hopper on the hook and tossed it at some cattails. Within a millisecond of the hopper hitting the water it was gone and my line began to peel off the reel. I reeled in as fast as I could, the line zig zagging back and forth about 12 feet from the edge where I was standing. With one final heave I lifted the fish from the water. An 11 ½” Bluegill. I had never seen a fish like this before. Bright blue lightening bolts on each side of its face, spines sticking straight up from it’s back, big scales on it’s sides. It looked nothing like the Brown and Rainbow Trout that I caught all of my life in the Sierra Nevada mountains, and it didn’t fight like one either. I caught about 20 more, all around the same size. Some grey in color, some bright yellow. With my metal stringer full, two fish on some of the clip hooks, I headed back to the house to show off my catch. My Dad was the first one to see the stringer as I approached the house, and his words were priceless, “Oh my lord, where in the world did you get those!”. I quickly turned the stringer over to my Mom . She was happy to clean the fish and prepare them for dinner. (Moms are great). Then my Dad ,my brother and I went back down to the Fishpond so we could try our luck together.

    After just a few days there was a trail cut through the wood leading straight to the fishpond. I ended up spending a lot of time on the banks of that Fishpond, laying in the grass and watching the clouds go by, wondering about different things in life, watching the leaves fall off the trees in autumn. Many thoughts were thought down there, many of life’s riddles were unraveled. If things got rough it didn’t matter, I always had my fishpond, and as long as I was there everything else in the world just didn’t matter much at all.

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