I have long been mesmerized
by the magic of fishing,
spending long hours alone as a child,
contemplating the mystery
of what happened beneath the surface,
the excitement of a plunging bobber.
Later, at thirteen,
I discovered accidentally the thrill of bass
when reeling in my bluegill bait
and taking a three-pounder
from under the willow tree on a small pond.
I fished avidly from then
till in my mid-twenties
when the demands of feeding a family
left little time for “because I enjoy it”
and my own notions of what I had to do
sacrificed a few of the things I loved to do.
Some thirty years later,
on an exceptionally pleasant July morning,
we are taking two of the grandsons fishing.
We wake them early,
stirring in the shadows of dawn
for warm scones and juice,
get to the small lake at Atchison by seven.
Tiny ripples form
from the occasional sprinkling
as slate blue clouds drift over northeast Kansas,
a lone heron rises from the rocky point,
flies beneath the branches, rises over the dam.
I am happy to see
that even in this age of iPods and iPhones
and perpetually instant gratification,
I am not alone in this ancient fascination;
the art of angling still holds its draw,
even when bass fishing seems like too much work
and the fourteen-year-old
catches a turtle instead of a channel cat.
Sometimes it is the unexpected moment
that makes us glad
for cameras and pliers
but it is this few hours
of being together
that measures the meaning of a morning
when old folks and young
forge a stronger bond of common satisfactions.