When Asher was 3, he learned to fish. Ok, it was at the fishing expo in a big warehouse in the Michigan winter and the trout pond was stocked and still so there was almost no way to NOT catch a fish.
Still, when the Novi News photographer snapped a picture of my curly-haired little boy grinning big and holding a floppy fish that he would minutes later toss back into the still waters, it was a moment to savor.
We fished the next summer in northern Michigan but again, it was an orchestrated affair – a stocked pond managed by some shady-looking characters who eagerly beheaded and cleaned the fish that he and Eliana caught. I remember two things from that escapade:
* not-quite-2 Eliana dangling over the bucket of caught fish, the ends of her long silky blond hair bobbing into the murky water as her little hands massaged the slippery fish; and,
* the stiffness of recent rigor mortis setting in to the fish as I dusted them with herbs and butter and wrapped them in foil to cook in the oven.
They tasted good, you know, but I felt queasy eating something so recently alive.
Perhaps it would be more exhilarating and full of taste if we lingered by the bank of an active river and took our chances wading in the shallows, casting a line until something caught. Perhaps the finger-prick of blood from a sloppy worm would make the catch all the more rewarding, all the more tasty on our table.
A single mother of three must invite those opportunities rather than run from them. Last year I said, “This summer…” with every intention of meaning it. We never fished, though, and Up North was a carefully-prepared vacation with all the remove of people who don’t much like to sit in the dirt.
And so I will say today, while it is still cold and March and not quite nearing the summeritme, “This summer, definitely…” Asher is almost 7 so he could reasonably thread the hook himself now. Even Shaya can hold the reel, with my hands at the back to steady. I wonder if Eliana will still be interested in the murky water.