Sunday, July 12, 2009


As the weekend approaches my mental list of projects grows longer. All week I carry a piece of paper in my pocket, a running tally of things I need to do once I get home from work. But when things don't get done on week nights, they automatically get bumped to the Saturday/Sunday list.

Which is why I had no intention of sitting by a lake in a lawn chair this past Saturday morning, watching little boys run wild. I accidentally fell into a pretty great morning that didn't involve brooms and dustpans, Windex or dust rags.

Isaac has a good friend who loves to fish. Isaac's dad and I are not fishing kind of people. We love being outdoors. Jeff's an archaeologist. He would be exploring the outdoors eighteen hours a day if life and mortgage payments allowed. He fished some with his dad when he was growing up. But it wasn't one of our priority outdoor activities. So when Isaac and his buddy started the summer off by biking to the lake every day to catch and release a few floppy little friends we took note.

By the second week of summer vacation he decided a fishing pole was the only item on his birthday wish list. He and dad made the inaugural trip to Wal-Mart and filled the cart with fishing line, tackle boxes, poles, bobbers, and all sorts of other slimy things they called bait. We learned where you could buy live worms within biking distance of our house. And suddenly my boy had a new hobby. Something to fill summer days and keep him away from video games and mindless TV. Something that was all his own, no older brother or sister had passed it down to him.

Then he came home and said he'd signed up for a fishing contest. We didn't think much of it. He and Sam would be spending the night at his fishing friend's house then heading over to the local lake early in the morning. Sounded like a good, productive way for a couple of boys to spend a weekend morning.

Jeff and I tried sleeping in, knowing our two 'little guys' were not even in the house on Saturday morning. Then came the text that they were in desperate need of sandwiches and lawn chairs. Enough laying there pretending to sleep while we wondered how it was all going. We had our excuse to go 'just check on them'.

By the time we pulled up in a van full of emergency supplies (snacks!) the boys had been standing by that sunny lake for two hours, without a single bite. They were ready for a change of pace. Sandwiches were devoured while Jeff and I set up the chairs. And suddenly my day had moved in a new direction. Nothing close to what I had on any of my assorted lists, but something I am happy I fell into.

With a perfect light breeze blowing ripples on the water in front of us I hunkered down in my chair and watched my boys interacting with their friends. I witnessed one incident of 'accidentally falling into the lake' and two incidents of lines being snagged in nearby trees. I witnessed three boys who act tough and macho in everyday life jump and scream when a six inch turtle made a sudden movement in the water by their feet. I saw my ever patient husband string and re-string fishing poles with new bobbers, bait and lead weights.

I also saw many other families and friends doing the same things. Man friends squatted by the water's edge, discussing fish and kids and life. A pack of teenage girls setting up chairs and stringing poles like experts, defying teen girl stereotypes. Little boys running up and down the shore, chasing bugs, ducks and the free spirit of childhood. And it was all good.

By the end of the morning we had one catch. Of the five boys in our group only one actually caught an actual fish. And that happened to be Sam, the little brother of my boy who's taken up fishing. It didn't win any prizes but it sure was a lot of fun to reel in and carry up to the judges stand.

And I got the classic picture. That picture that says childhood, no matter which set of eyes is looking back into the camera. A kid standing by a lake shore, clutching a pole in one hand and a line with a fish dangling on it in the other.

It turned out to be a pretty great day. Forgetting about lists and obligations and remembering what life is about. Snatching up the chance to see my boys as their lives unfold in new ways and snap pictures that will fill my eyes with nostalgic tears in just a handful of years.

It was good to be reminded that the stuff that matters in the long run has very little to do with all those notes I put on my to do list.

No comments: