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First Lake Trip: Part 2

imgres“Can I catch a fish now?” my five-year-old Grand asked for the third time during a recent Center Hill Lake outing. Dean had laughed and enjoyed his first pontoon boat ride. Now, he splashed in the water with his parents and me. His siblings, Neil, age 3, and 16-month-old Annie, floated beside us. Husband sat on the boat and readied two cane-fishing poles.

Neil echoed Dean. “Fish, now!”

Son, Dean and Neil’s dad, said, “We’re going to get back on the boat, eat lunch, and then we’ll fish.”

Dean quickly ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a peach. “Pop, can I catch a fish now, please?” Dean asked. Husband moved the boat near a downed tree, and then handed Son a tube of crickets. Both Dean and Neil held fishing poles. Cane poles, with hooks and orange bobbers.

A cricket escaped Son’s hand and landed on the boat deck. Neil squealed. Dean jumped. The cricket got away. We women – Annie, Daughter-in-law, and I – moved to the shaded boat seats. After a few more escaping crickets, two were threaded onto hooks.

Dean dropped his line into the water and stood as a statue. “Watch the bobber,” Son said. “When it goes underwater, there’s a fish on your hook. Lift the pole and pull the fish out of the water.” If a fish wanted the cricket on Neil’s line, it would have had to swim to and fro because Neil waved his fishing pole along the boat’s railing. The bobbers bobbed. Not a fish in sight. Neil’s pole crossed Dean’s and the lines tangled. Son untangled the line and again both Grands held their poles. Dean asked, “Am I going to catch a fish now?” Neil chanted, “Fish, oh, fish.”

After fifteen minutes, Son and Husband decided the boys would more likely catch fish near the boat dock, where we saw many small ones before we boarded the boat. A ride across water and again both Grands held fishing poles. Dean lowered his baited hook into the water and a minute later, the bobber disappeared. He lifted his pole. No fish. No cricket. That happened two more times and then Dean jerked the pole and a small brim, about five inches long, wiggled on the fishing line.

“I caught a fish! I caught a fish!” Dean screamed and jumped on the wooden dock. “Look Momma! Look Pop! I caught a fish!” Son held the fishing line and Dean examined the fish closely, not touching it. Son tossed the fish into the water and baited the hook again.

Husband baited Neil’s hook with a worm. The bobber floated only a few seconds before it went underwater. Husband helped Neil lift a small brim out of the water. Neil screamed, “A fish! A fish! I caught a fish!” He crouched low and eyed the fish when Husband dangled it from the line, but Neil didn’t get within touching distance. When Husband said the fish was going back into the water, Neil waved and said, “Bye, bye fishy.”

The next fifteen minutes, Dean and Neil caught fish as fast as Son and Husband baited the hooks. Both Grands squealed and laughed every time one came out of the water. And Neil told every fish bye before it was released into the water.

I took pictures and watched. “Do you know what kind of fish those are?” I asked my Grands.

Neil answered quickly. “Really big little fishes.” Just the kind kids should catch on their first fishing trip ever.

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First Lake Trip: Part One

family-in-a-boat“How about a lake trip?   The boys will love that. Maybe a little fishing with Pop?” This was Son’s email response to my inquiry of what his family would like to do during their three-day visit with Husband and me.

A lake trip. On a pontoon boat at Center Hill Lake.

The boys. Dean, age 5 and Neil, 3. Neither had ever been on a boat.

Fishing with Pop. Pop, aka Husband, last took someone fishing more than thirty years ago.

Yes, of course, a day at the lake and fishing would be a perfect outing for Son’s family: Dean, Neil, fifteen-month-old Ann, and Daughter-in-Law. Husband and I would make it happen. We made our list. Borrow toddler size life jackets. Make sure the pontoon boat was ready. Buy groceries for a picnic lunch. Fishing license. Fishing poles. Bait.

When Son and family arrived on Sunday, he and Husband shopped. Two adult fishing licenses: $25. (Husband’s senior license was only $5) Two cane fishing poles, crickets and nightcrawlers: $13. Right after breakfast Monday morning, we loaded up everybody, life jackets, lunches, water bottles, towels, diapers, changes of clothes, sunhats, sunscreen, sunglasses, fishing poles, and fishing bait, and we headed for the lake.

I could leave out a major glitch, but it’s typical of a lake outing. The day before our lake trip, Husband and I had vacuumed the boat floor and scrubbed insect droppings off the seats. And then we discovered the boat battery was dead. So the morning of our lake trip, Husband drove alone to the lake to install a charged battery.

Son’s family and I arrived at the boat dock parking lot thirty minutes after Husband and he greeted us with these words, “The boat still won’t start.” I’m not sure if Son or I was more disappointed. I kept smiling and helped zip and fasten lifejackets on the Grands. “We can fish from the boat dock. We’ll swim somewhere else. It’ll work out,” I said with forced enthusiasm.

Husband made a phone call to a friend who has a boat at the same dock and it did work out. As we pulled away from the dock with three smiling Grands, I was thankful for our friend who loaned his boat on a minute’s notice.

“Can I catch a fish now?” Dean asked.

“Later,” Son said. “We’ll ride on the boat and then stop and swim. Then we’ll get back on the boat and eat lunch. And then fish. Look at the blue heron.” We adults were more awed than the Grands by the heron. That Monday morning, we had the lake to ourselves. Not another boat in sight.  Our Grands sat still and wide-eyed. They laughed as the breeze blew in their faces.

The water was perfect for swimming, warm and calm. Dean and Neil jumped from the boat into the water to their parents’ outstretched arms. Ann wasn’t happy when it was her naptime and she was encased in a tight life jacket and hot. Husband and I took turns trying to entertain her, and she, too, was finally happy when she got in the water with her mother.

“Get in, Gran!” Dean shouted. As Dean and Neil and I lay in the water like starfish (on our backs, arms and legs stretched out) I felt that all over joyful feeling. When all is right with the world. When heart and body and soul are one. The best life offers.

“Gran, can I catch a fish now?” Dean asked.

To be continued: first lake trip, part two and fishing.

JUMP IN!

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I don’t jump into water.  Not into a swimming pool, nor a lake.  I don’t like water splashing on my face and I don’t like being a six-foot torpedo in depths known or unknown.  I ease down a ladder into water.  As a mother and a Gran, I’ve treaded deep water for as long as my children and grandchildren wanted to jump.  But jumping in water is one thing I’ve told how to do, but never shown. “Just jump.  You’ll come right back up,” I’ve said.  So imagine my apprehension when I was suited up to snorkel in the middle of the Caribbean Sea near Belize, and the guide says, “We’ll jump off the side of the boat.”

I’d been snorkeling before.  In this same location, but on a big boat – big enough that it had a ladder with wide steps so I carefully made my way down while wearing giant-size flippers.  This was a 25-foot dive boat that carried only nine people – a guide and eight paying snorkel guests.

I was excited about seeing water wildlife again and I was comfortable wearing a life jacket, a snorkel mask, and giant flippers.  Chris, the eighteen-year-old guide, stopped the boat at the Hol Chan Marine Reserve in the middle of the sea, but surrounded by many boats.   I could see at least a hundred snorkel tubes sticking out of the aqua clear water.  Chris adjusted my mask and I said, without my fellow snorkelers hearing me,  “I’m nervous about jumping in the water.  I don’t jump in water.”

Chris pulled strands of my hair out from under my mask. “No hair under mask so no water in nose.  The ladder is too narrow to go down.  You could fall and get hurt.  You can jump,” he said. I wasn’t so sure.  He guided me to the side of the boat.  “Sit here.” On the six-inch wide side.  “Now turn and get your legs over the water.  Push off with your hands.”  I could see foot-long silver fish and the ocean bottom, about twelve feet below.  “If you go under, count to 3.  You’ll be back up before you get to 3.”  That’s what he tells the little kids, I thought as I pushed myself off the boat.

I did go under and counted 1, 2 and surfaced.  Before I could focus my eyes I heard, “A turtle in front of you!”  A green turtle, as big as a galvanized steel washtub, swam just inches from my nose.  I felt his back flippers swish on my stomach.  I lay my hand on his shell and pushed to give myself some water space.  The turtle swam away.  I looked around to locate my friends and our guide in the water.

The snorkeling adventure was all I’d hoped for.  Thousands and thousands of brightly colored fish, turtles, anemone, coral, manta rays, even nurse sharks.  I’d do it again.

And now I have another reason to be eager for warm weather.  My Grands will be shocked when I put on my life jacket and jump off a pontoon boat into the lake.  Last summer they said, “Gran, don’t go down the ladder.  Jump in with us!”  I’ll be a nervous and I’ll hold my nose and I’ll count to three.

That’s a FIRST

images “Well, that’s a first,” I said as Husband turned off the TV late one night in June.  “That’s the first time I’ve ever watched the WCTE Auction and not bought something.”  Husband nodded.  “And tonight’s the last night so I won’t have another chance this year.”  I’d bid on several items, but obviously not as the auctioneers suggested:  bid high and bid often.

That first-time thought stuck in my mind.  So on Monday morning, June 10, I started a new list entitled “One New Thing Everyday – A First!” and I wrote, ‘Watched WCTE Auction and didn’t buy anything.’  (Next June I’ll bid higher.)  I wondered how many days I’d do or see something for the first time.  It’s been more than two months and except for three days that I forgot to write and couldn’t remember anything I’d done on those days, I’ve had a FIRST every day.

Most are small, insignificant events and many are things I saw.  Some are happy – some sad.  Some intentional – some just happened.  Most silly – some serious.  Most common – a few once in a lifetime.  What’s the point?  I’m not sure, but I mentioned what I’d been doing to a few friends and one said, “I like that!”  Her encouragement was all I needed to continue.

Many intentional FIRSTS relate to food.  At the cookie store, I almost ordered my favorite, oatmeal raisin.  But instead I tried a walnut, cranberry oatmeal cookie and it was definitely better than my longtime favorite.  For the first time ever, I’ve eaten peanut butter spread on a banana and caramel yogurt and Pig’s Ear Salad and colcannon.  Not on the same day.

I’ve realized I see new things every day.  My newborn Grand.  Twin fawn and their mother in my backyard.  Two-year-old Grand throwing rocks into our backyard creek.  Three Grands – one at a time – riding on a tube with their daddy behind a boat at the lake.  (I could almost do a whole FIRST list about my Grands.)

I pieced and quilted my first quilt.  The marigolds seeds I planted came up.  I went to a concert by myself and toured Granville, Tennessee and the Baxter Depot with friends.  I drove on Cookeville streets that I’d never noticed before and read Garden and Gun magazine.

It’s really not difficult to see or do something new each day.  But sometimes I do something just to be sure to have an entry on my FIRST list.  Like this one:  I tweeted.  I read an email, entitled 5 Reasons to Embrace the 21st Century, that ended with these words:  “Avoid old-fogie-itis and stave off dementia!  Click to tweet.”

So I wrote my first tweet.  Avoid being an old fogie.Do or see 1 new thing a day.Nothing spectacular.Eat colcannon.Drive a new path.Do it.  And immediately, I had followers.  Only one who I know.

I’m taking my own advice.  Who wants to be an old fogie?  Not me.  That’s gives me one good reason for FIRSTS.  And besides, it’s fun to do or see something new every day.

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