In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Call Me Ishmael.”
The cold chill of a Michigan December finally numbed my bare fingers to the bone, sank beneath my clothes to send a chill down my spine, and really made me stop to think “Why do I do this to myself?”
“Because I crave it,” came the answer in my head as the cleats on my boots bit into the ice beneath them again.
The wind howled it’s angry tune around me. Nothing but the sound of it swirled in my ears save for the thump of my ice spud whacking the ice a few feet in front of me and the sound of cleats clawing at the slick surface.
Some people call it desolate and isolating. A true enough statement I suppose, but for some of us it is also liberating.
Gone is the hustle and bustle of the busy world. Out on a frozen lake there is no rush, no stop lights, no sales man or crazy drivers who think your world should come to a screeching halt because they have somewhere to be.
It is simply nature in it’s rawest form. That mere fact keeps most folks hidden in their homes and work places cursing out the window at the blowing snow on a wind so icy that it drives the mercury in a thermometer down to negative numbers.
I wait all year for these days. The lake lays quiet under my feet, blanketed in ice.
The sound of powerboats, swimmers and skiers nothing more than an echo in my memory.
Then like a welcomed beacon my shanty emerged from the pure white blur of wind driven snow.
In it sat my daughter, safe and warm next to the heater. I had ventured out in search of better fishing grounds but had returned empty handed.
“It’s just a slow day all around,” came my greeting as I zipped the door shut behind me.
“That’s OK Dad,” she returned without looking up from the tip of her fishing rod, “At least we are together.”
I could not have said it any better myself.
Time can be cruel, never stopping or slowing down. And I have become acutely aware of it’s fleeting existence the older I get.
I no longer have years to spend with youngsters that rely on me and Mama for everything. All five are growing, exploring on their own and either left the nest already, or will be in a couple short years.
That realization makes frigid days on the ice all the more important to me. They equal alone time that will soon be hard to come by as my kids are starting families of their own.
And then it happened. Something that made me laugh hard enough to chase the chill from my bones.
That little girl who had a knack for sending my coffee cup to the icy depths of the lake struck again.
“Oh crap!” I heard as I watched the tip of my rod bounce.
My eyes instantly snapped to her side of the shanty.
There in the bright glowing rectangle of illuminated ice I spotted the black frames of her sunglasses wafting to and fro in the green water. Lazily swimming for the lake bottom.
I like to call them “Uh-Oh” moments. Times when little ones utter “Uh-Oh… Daddy!”
But the joke was on her this time as we both starred in a silent reverence to her departing eye ware. For the first time I can remember, it was not something of mine sent to the bottom.
We laughed, reminisced about coffee cups, lures and even a fishing rod that had disappeared from our world with the aid of tiny fingers or winter boots.
Yes, times they are a changing. And in a few years, those two little syllables will have a new title behind them and give me even more stories to share.
I can hear it already, and it brings a smile to my face. “Uh-Oh… Grandpa!”
With five kids, something tells me I better stock up on coffee mugs, lures, sunglasses and ice scoops.
There will be even more tiny voices to utter those syllables!
In the mean time I will enjoy the fading moments of ice fishing with those of our clan who enjoy it, and ponder the question…
Do fish wear sunglasses?
First sentence compliments of Desperation Floats, by CJ Alan.