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I am a mother, a teacher, and a nature lover. I grew up on a mountain we called Owls' Knob in the Ozarks of Arkansas. The first seven years of my life were spent living in a log cabin, far from a store or streetlight, without electricity or running water and after twenty years of travel, I returned to the abondoned homestead. Now I live on a hill by a small lake and work at a public garden. These are stories about nature written from a women deeply influenced by place.

Monday, July 22, 2013

First Fish

It was not a perfect day for an outing, but we woke yesterday itching for open skies, clear waters, and fresh air. The lake became our destination. We would work on teaching our older son to swim and the water wouldn't be too cold for the baby.
The weather was indecisive. In the morning, while making plans, it was sunny and hot. But by the time we had packed up the car with kids, swimming accessories, and lunch, it was rainy and cool. When we stopped for gas, I checked the radar. It looked like the lake to the north of us was getting pounded by thunderstorms while the rivers to the south was missing the showers. As we took off again, we changed our direction and headed south, to the river.
We stopped in the little town of West Fork where the city park that borders the river was usually hopping, especially on a Sunday afternoon in July! But the rain had chased everyone away. The park was deserted and the serene river was all ours.
We ate lunch and walked to the water's edge in the rain. He rain ranged between a sprinkle and a light shower but it never reached a storm. The summer showers defused the heat of the day. I can not imagine a more perfect drizzly afternoon. And in all its perfection, it had kept the crowds at bay. So many people were looking out their windows and canceling plans. Perhaps they had not even left thier air conditioned homes to feel the warm water and cool breeze against their skin. Many of them would not give a day such as this a chance.
We swam but the water was fairly cold. So we changed our main focus to fishing. John rigged Zane up with a perfect beginner fishing bait and hook. He put a bass crank bait fishing lure on his child sized pole. The bait had two three pronged hooks on each end of a small plastic fish. Though is was designed to snag a big bass, the individual tiny hooks were the perfect size to catch the small perch that filled the pool. With a worm on the end of the line, John taught Zane to fish.
It only took a few castes before Zane caught his first fish. John beamed with pride as Zane held up the tiny perch. Or course we let the fish go and continued fishing. Pulling the perch out of the water was easy and fun. Zane learned how to fish and got a thrill each time they were able to real in a floppy fish. The perch did not seem small to my son.
As the day warmed and the sky cleared, people joins us at the park. A group of brothers playing along the river bed witnessed Zane catch a fish. Their eyes begged for a turn. So John taught them all how to fish. They boys were thrilled to give fishing a try.
As the sun sunk low, thunderheads returned and the people emptied out of the park again. But we stayed until our growling stomachs told us to go home. I grilled up some salmon for dinner. Even though we had let every catch go free, fish seemed like the most appropriate meal. 
No. It was not a perfect day for an outing. But sometimes those are the best days!

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