Life is filled with little trophies. High marks on a progress report, ribbons for science fairs, a “surprise prize” for selling wrapping paper or candy through school fundraisers. Some items you keep, others you simply hold onto in your memories.
Our boy Sparky is keen on winning and gaining approval or doing well. He enters into adventures with zeal. He wants to be first on the slide, swing higher than anyone and to run fastest in games of tag. He moves as much as he talks, which is typically nonstop. He is happiest when he is in the thick of the action.
It is with some bemusement when I see him sitting quietly and attentively in his Sunday School class. I wonder if he is the same way at preschool, although his confession that he has been moved several times because of talking makes me think probably not.
It’s because of this need to move and frankly, to be loud, rather like an over excited terrier , that I find it amazing how much he enjoys fishing. Not the “out on the lake” kind (yet), but the slow and easy, toss a line and bobber in the pond kind of fishing. Where you sit on a dock with your toes dangling just above the water. If you are careful with your balance, you can lean over and rest your chin on your knees to peer into the green depths beneath, watching tadpoles or minnows darting amongst pond weeds.
Apparently, he does quite well with this. The very idea of his focusing on this fascinates me. The Hubs and Sparky have been fortunate enough to be permitted to fish from a pond our neighbor, Johnny, owns. It’s a bit off the path and peaceful, with a dock, complete with an old tool chest loaded with life jackets for little fishermen who might lean a bit too far over the water looking at a fish, frog or even air bubbles.
Sparky has been bringing home some outstanding bluegills and has become a bit of a storyteller about the one who got away. His focus is more on the ones he caught, even the fish who are released so “they can grow up.” His tale is not how much they fight or his struggle to reel them in, but rather of how pretty they are.
The subtle shades of the fish, how dark their eyes are and what it looks like when you look inside their mouth. In microseconds, he takes notes of these things and speaks of them because they are as important as the act of catching the fish. He seems to be okay with keeping or letting them go, because just the act of reeling them in is the prize, much like being “it” in a game of tag.
Last week, he caught a beauty of a fish, a large bluegill, large enough to be “citation size”, whatever that is, with the State Game and Fishing Department. The Hubs weighed, measured and photographed this specimen to send in for a “citation pin” for Sparky.
The Hubs was very excited about this prospect; Sparky was more interested in the gruesome idea of finally being able to eat a fish he caught. It was all he could talk about. Right up until the Hubs fried up his fillets and served them to him.
Sparky poked at his plate a bit and was highly skeptical that it was actually “his” fish on the plate. He was convinced to finally try it and after two bites, he announced he was “full.”
Not the most successful of meals, but at least he did not denounce all future fish meals. Later he confessed he didn’t think it was his bluegill because it didn’t look anything like Bob (of course, he had named the fish). He had a vision of the fish being basically a heated-up version of a whole fish like they show on cartoons. Bless his heart. I had thought the same thing as a kid.
Next time, maybe dad will let him see at least a part of the cleaning process, mom will cook the entrée and we will let him be part of the preparation. He will be able to see for certain he had contributed to the table, perhaps this will make the dish more palatable to him. I just know for certain, while the catch will fill his belly, the real prize was that moment when the bobber popped under the water and he knew he would be reeling in a trophy, no matter the size.
Written and submitted by Sarah Roush for The Circleville Herald. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.