When I was a kid, it always seemed like summer was a bit less hectic than the rest of the year. With the garden planted and growing, my daily chores were reduced to weeding and watering, mowing the lawn, and painting the old-fashioned storm windows. Sure, sometimes there was that house-painting project, and once I had to scrape, wire brush and repaint what seemed like endless miles of wrought-iron fence that surrounded a porch. But during summer, once the chores were finished for the day, the only rule was that I had to be home in time for supper.
Among the most memorable of those lazy summer days were those when I hopped on my bicycle with fishing tackle and a can of worms in hand, and rode down to a nearby slough to wet a line. Fishing this way was pure, joyous solitude for me. I’d arrive at the slough, ditch my bike in the tall cattails, and follow a muddy footpath to a small point that reached into deep water – deep enough to hold some fish anyway. It was my “secret” spot, and I cut out a small clearing in the cattails and stacked the fronds in a mat that served both as a perch from which to angle for bass, bluegill and northern pike, and a place to simply lay back and watch the clouds. Some of my proudest moments were bringing home a mess of fish, cleaning them, and then handing them over to my mom to fry for supper.
Today I have three ponds of my own. Each has a unique character. One is full of bullfrogs, one is full of turtles, and one I stocked with bass, bluegill and catfish. And while my chores don’t seem to wane in summertime the way they did in those good old days, I still manage to visit the ponds regularly. I find peace and solitude at the turtle pond, which is the most isolated, and good entertainment at the bullfrog pond, which is situated in the cow pasture. When I really feel like fishing, I grab my stuff and walk to the stocked pond, which is about 100 yards from the house – and whenever I hook a big one, the little kid inside of me swells up with pride, even when I have no intention of bringing the fish home.
Whether summer is your lazy season or not, I’d love to know what you’re up to. And if you have any fish tales to tell, or you’d like to share a story about your “secret” spot for reflection, I’d love to hear about it. Send me a note and a photo or two (at least 300 dpi, jpeg), if available, at firstname.lastname@example.org, and the whole works may just wind up in a future issue.
See you in fall,
Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on Google+.