Saturday, April 05, 2008

The time has passed...

There are times when you have to take a step back in life and take one of those deep breaths.

To clear your mind, to remember things "back when".

Remember before the memories fade forever.

I was bumping along at work the other day and got a hankering to wander out to a little cattail, lillypad filled lake Dad and Mom used to take us boys to back in the late 1950's and 1960's. It was in the middle of the forest on Ft. Lewis, Washington.

It was an active little lake. Complete with picnic tables, a small boat launch and limited parking areas.

There was enough room for about six families to recreate comfortably. Every time we went to the lake we found an empty table so the public pressure wasn't all that overwhelming on the small site.

Life was simple... had more meaning back then.

Or so it seemed.

Our entertainment, our fun was self generated. Family style! We'd fish together, we'd play together, we'd hide together.

We'd explore everything, everywhere!

Our expeditionary base camp would be one of the several picnic tables on site. Our parents were our supreme commanders. The expeditionary leaders. At least one brother would be in charge of wood collection while the rest of us boys would repair and clean the fire pit.

People respected these types of sites back then. Rarely did you find remnants of a "campfire" with burned cans, rubbish, eggshells, etc. in them. Most of the time the sites were left in better shape than when they were found.

Things have changed.

The biggest thing I ever hooked while fishing I hooked off of this downed tree. I'll never forget it.

I kept playing with a fish just below the limbs off of the left side. I'd walked out onto the tree's trunk, flipped my Mepps into the water past the limbs and reeled it towards me.

Every other cast I'd get a bump from a lunker. It'd come out from the shadows of the tree, hit the spinner and before I could set the hook it'd flip back into the shadows.

It was testing me.

I thought I'd trick it. I switched to nightcrawler and decided I'd cast past the limbs, out into the lake a bit more and reel through the fish's strike zone. That'd draw the fish out, he'd hit that nightcrawler and, realizing it's real food would take the bait! Hook, line and sinker!

Great plan! Wonderful plan! It'd work! It had to work!

A foolproof plan of attack for that lunker. I'd be dragging in the biggest fish of the day in a matter of minutes. Simple as that!

Nothing could go wrong. Nothing!


One of my four brothers had worked his way out onto the downed tree behind me. I wasn't paying attention. I was focused on the fish, my plan, the future...

As he moved out onto the tree I reared back to cast. My hook with worm went back over my shoulder. My eyes fixed on the water in front of me... on the site where I was about to cast. As I brought my cast forward I felt a tug... a snag of sorts. Without looking I pulled again to free the hook, bait. The snag fought back. The bushes behind me weren't forgiving. They held onto my hook and bait.

In fact, the bushes behind me were screaming. Screaming at me to "stop!"

I turned to look at these talking bushes, to see what was happening. About the time I turned I saw my brother charging down the tree towards me, his right hand holding his neck, his left hand his fishing pole.

His face was distorted... anger, pain, surprise!

I recognized that look. I'd seen it several times before.

He wanted to hurt me.

I jumped off of the tree into the water... fishing pole in hand.

He followed me... his fishing pole in hand.

About the time I got to the shore from the lake Dad reached it from the bank. He pulled me out of the water then Dan, my brother... who was still screaming at me.

The baby!

Dad pulled my barbed hook from Dan's neck. The nightcrawler had long since fallen off into the water.

We were done fishing for the day.

We headed back to the "camp" to stand by the fire and get dry, poles in hand and Dad between us... keeping the peace.

Once back at the picnic table Dan lost his anger. We laughed about the incident. Dad laughed the longest, loudest.

All I know is that I hooked the biggest living thing ever hooked by anyone in our family at Cat Lake. It was at the cost of living under a life long threat of retaliation though.

Dan, he makes sure he fishes "up front" now... and he's real wary when I cast.

I have no doubt that lunker got my worm that day.

I'll bet he's still there, bigger than ever!

...but things just ain't the same anymore.

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