Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Catch of the Day

One day Big Mama took us to a park near Benbrook Lake. I had never been there before. There were no rides in the park, but there were plenty of picnic tables, shade trees, and large fields to play in. There was also a large stream running through the park, and Big Mama had brought her fishing poles. I had never been fishing before, but I wanted to collect some of the tadpole eggs that were near the edge of the stream. Richard and I looked for a cup.

Nearly an hour passed and Big Mama had not caught anything. She then called me over to watch her poles while she went to the restroom. The restrooms were inside a white building, clear on the other side of the field. My sisters went with her, while Richard played over by one of the picnic tables. I was concerned, wondering what to do if a fish came, and Big Mama explained everything.

“Just keep watching those corks,” she said, “pointing at three small, plastic red and white balls that were floating on the water. “If they sink, that means that a fish is trying to get my bait.”

“What should I do?” I asked.

“Catch it,” she said. “Don’t worry, I’ll be right back. Just don’t throw anything in the water. That would scare the fish away.”

She then turned and walked away. My attention shifted back to the water, the floating corks, and the jelly-like glob of tadpole eggs I had collected in a plastic cup.

From my peripheral vision, I thought I saw one of the floating balls move. I leaned forward on the rock I was sitting on, and stared… hoping that it was only my imagination. I was excited and worried. I glanced over towards the white buildings to see if Big Mama was coming. She was nowhere in sight – and I looked back at the ball. It bobbed again. Then it completely submerged and popped back to the surface.

Part of me was dreading what I had to do. I remembered what Big Mama had said, but still, it was the unknown. Where is she? I thought and checked once more. Then I moved over to the pole. When I touched the pole, whatever was on the other end went wild. The pole jerked, and I had to catch it before it went into the water. The floating ball was not completely submerged and running all over the stream. It jerked me with the pole off balance, and that began a tug-a-war.

I yelled for Big Mama, who must have heard me from the restroom, and she came sprinting across the field. My tug-a-war continued, as I turned my back to the water with the pole over my right shoulder. I walked forward, away from the water as if I was carrying a heavy sack of toys. By the time Big Mama arrived, I had dragged the exhausted fish from the water. So strong and graceful it had been in its element. It was now the catch of the day.

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