Thursday, May 13, 2010

An Old Cane Pole

Each child was given a fishing pole at age 5. In fact, I’m sure Dad couldn’t wait until they arrived at the age so he could hand off a new pole. The grandchildren were excited to receive a pole; their grandfather was doing what he loved most. Memories of all the times we went fishing are still warm in my heart.

We often fished at Grandad’s pond, but nothing compared to the trips to Lake Hamlin, Michigan. Aunt Bess and Uncle Sam had a lodge on the lake. Across the road was the little bayou. We didn’t take many vacations. Those to Michigan were excitedly anticipated.

Aunt Alma went north with us a few times. She loved to fish. Her excitement and delight was the best reason to catch a fish. One evening Dad took us out in the bayou in a small fishing boat. Aunt Alma sat in the middle of the boat, Dad in the back and me hanging out over the front. As soon as I dropped the line into the water, the fish hit. The frenzy continue with me pulling in fish, swinging them around to Dad so he could remove them, tossing the line in again only to repeat it time and time again. Dad and Aunt Alma didn’t get a hit, but I cleaned lowered the fish population that night. Aunt Alma laughed till she cried; I thought she would fall overboard. Dad always said it was one of the best times he had fishing even though he didn’t catch a single one. A memory shared even at the end.

Beautiful white dunes ran across the other side of the lake where the state park ran from Lake Michigan to Lake Hamlin. Dad would pack up his women taking them to the dunes while he spent the day fishing. We sat on the sand and swam in the water. On one such day I did what I love most at the beach, I became the beachcomber. Tangled in the underbrush was an old cane pole. Perhaps some poor fisherman got mad and tossed it into the brink or maybe just perhaps a big walleye had yanked it from his hands. Either way, I had a new ‘old’ pole. For years after it was the only pole I took fishing. My lucky pole.

Those times spent with my family with fishing pole in hand are some of the dearest memories I have. We laughed, we talked, we fished and later we dined on our daily catch. I learned that I could pick up an earth worm (especially after I smacked it with a shoe), I could remove a fish from the hook, I could gather night crawlers from under rocks late at night, and best of all, I could have a wonderful day sitting in a boat even if the fish didn’t bite. I was with family.

I don’t have that old cane pole any more. I wish I did.

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