Everyone has secrets, and sometimes they get exposed in more ways than one.
Mom, Grandpa (Dad’s father), David, and I went fishing for bullhead in the brook running through a meadow behind our home in Welch Hollow. Well, three of us fished. David got tied to a stake with a leash, so he wouldn’t wander off or fall into the water. I felt sorry for him, toddling around in circles, and appreciated my freedom.
I brought him bird feathers, dandelion puffs, and an occasional frog to make his incarceration more interesting. I patiently spent hours catching the shiny minnows darting in and out of fast moving formations along the water’s edge. The slippery little fish usually snuck out between my fingers, but once in a while one got left behind, wriggling inside my clenched fist. The unlucky minnows ended up in my tin can filled with cloudy brook water. I swished the water with a stick to make them move. My aquarium got emptied when it was time to leave, and a few hardy minnows swam away. Most did the dead man’s float, belly up.
Grandpa was seventy-nine (I was four) with a head of thinning snow-white hair. His body was thin, too. Mom said when she met him seven years earlier, before his pinky and ring fingers curled up with arthritis, he could play almost any instrument by ear–a talent passed on to my father. I was impressed that Grandpa used to play his fiddle upside down and behind his back, and easily pictured him doing so. He also had a knack with animals. In addition to his cats–one of which grossly, but fascinatingly cleaned his ears out with its tongue–he tamed a crow and fox. I wished he still had them. I have an affinity for crows to this day.
I sat on the bank waiting for the bobber on my line to start bobbing and looked over as Grandpa set his pole down. He headed toward a grove of trees.
“Where’re you going, Grandpa?”
He motioned me away with his arm, but didn’t answer.
I yelled louder. “Grandpa, where are you going?”
Still no answer. He disappeared behind a thick tree trunk surrounded by scrub brush. Did Grandpa have a secret berry patch he wasn’t sharing? I jumped up, set a rock on my pole, and ran to find out.
I found out my Grandpa peed on trees.
Now it’s your turn: Share your earliest fishing memory.
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