Sunday, November 25, 2012

Good Days Slip Away

     I miss the old days of fishing with a fly rod. We lived in a mobile home retirement village at Murrel's Inlet in South Carolina. The park had three large ponds that were stocked with several kinds of fish. The ponds were connected by three foot pipes. Every now and then a beaver would show up in one of the ponds. He always came over in to our ponds by digging under a fence on the forest side of the park. He was a sneaky old beaver that always managed to avoid our traps.
     I would fish almost every day.  I enjoyed fishing with open face spinner rods and reels. I'd cast the line way out into the pond and reel in the spinners or plastic worms, letting the bait rise and sink. The  fun part was watching the bait hit the water and immediately seeing a large-mouth bass hit the bait and jump right up out of the water. I can almost feel the fish running with the bait. The line would go slack, I'd jerk up on the tip of the rod, and the fish would jump out of the water again. Eventually, he'd break loose, or he'd tire out and I'd pull him up onto the bank.
     The most fun was using the fly rod. The other old timers who fished late in the afternoons always made fun of me for using a fly rod, but they also enjoyed seeing me, the youngster, whipping the line back and forth until I plopped the end of the line right over a set of bubbles. Seven times out of ten, a fish would hit that bait and either jump out of the water, or jerk the bait down under the water and run with it. Other times, the line would make a soft plopping noise, and I would slowly pull the line in, usually with a small perch or a crappy flopping around. Then came the sound of the old retired men chuckling at the youngster who fished with a fly rod in a man made pond; but, when I landed a nice small mouth bass or a large mouth bass, I heard a string of rather vulgar cuss words float across the pond.
     I didn't care what the weather was like. I'd fish at the hottest hours of the summer days. I'd fish in the rain while the old timers sat on their screened in porches and watched me daring the lightning to hit me. I usually released the fish back into the ponds, but sometimes the old timers would yell out for me to let them have my fish for their dinner that night. Since I did not care for killing, scaling, and gutting fish, I was always happy to let the old timers deal with the messy part.
     Now, I don't live near water, so I never fish. I miss the feel of a fly rod and reel in my hands. I miss snapping the line back and forth overhead and watching the tip gently touch down upon the surface of the water. I miss the smell of the rain, especially as the water dripped off the tall pine trees. I miss the smell of the salt water inlet that was only a quarter of a mile away. I miss the perfectly mowed lawns around the lake and the park. I miss the bright colors of the green grass and the flowers that lined my yard. Gosh, you could just about spit a watermelon seed on the grass, and within a few days a watermelon plant would pop up out of the grass. Roses were easy to grow. Gladiolus grew profusely adding many different colors to the yard. Azaleas grew fast and bloomed for a long time.
     Yes, I miss fly rod fishing and all the fun of a leisurely life. These days, when I should be retired, I work seven days a week. My fly rod hangs in the shed out back. Sometimes, I take it down and hold it and am tempted to flip the line a few times, but no, not here. I miss the fish and the beaver. I even miss the moss that bloomed on the ponds each year.  I miss walking back up to my perfect little mobile home with its perfectly built sun deck, and the perfectly mowed lawn that was bordered with perfect flowers and bushes.
     I miss looking up at the window over the deck and seeing the perfect faces of my two first born children, Christi and Angela staring out at me with their big eyes and even bigger smiles. Those were good days.

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