WE’RE VIKINGS, SUCKA

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We dig Spring.

As a matter of fact this year we did a whole bunch of celebrating and out-of-door reveling the day before Spring arrived just so we’d be out of its way when it crawled out from the barn, the bushes, the flattened flowerbeds and walnut trees in the back yard in the cold light of dawn to stretch and yawn and give the kids a high-five when they get on the bus.

Our celebrating started with the annual phone call from my dad, the kids’ papa, informing them that the suckers are running…we’d better get to the creek. Into their boots faster than superheroes into tights, each kid ran to the barn to claim their weapon of choice: a salmon net, a smaller bass net, and a smaller still trout net. My youngest put to words what they all are thinking – let’s go get ’em.

They traipsed and tromped and terrorized as many slack pools and eddies they could reach from 3/4 boot-deep water, chasing those lake-run redhorse, managing to corner a small dumb male or egg-loaded and slow hen every now and again. The ruckus was just shy of enough to wake the dead. Which is a good thing since the 1/2 mile-or-so section of Sucker Brook they were pillaging, the same 1/2 mile-or-so section that I grew up pillaging and my dad the same, runs smack through the heart of Woodlawn Cemetery’s 77 acres. To this day, no residents have lodged any noise complaints.

Having had their fill of plundering, we headed to my wife’s parents, the kids’ Grammy and Grampy, to throw some fly line at the spring-fed pumphouse pond next to the first tee on the family’s golf course. The pond once held rainbows and browns, stocked years earlier, that ran opposite ends of this aquatic block like Crips and Bloods. Big gangsta trouts. 6 pounds easy. Some guy would be trying to tee-off and I’d hook up and the fish would leap and buck and run, my reel screaming, and the guy’s three buddies hollering holy shit! right in the middle of his back swing. Shank-ity shank shank. Enjoy your round, I’d holler and wave as they’d head the search party toward the rough.

The kids have no idea the pond holds no fish anymore, which is awesome because:
1) they stood like defiant little Vikings on the shore doing their damndest to get the line through a stiff headwind out onto the water where they were certain a fish the size of a Russian sub was going to inhale their fly and run for the 18th green, and
2) if one of those old gangsta trouts was to actually take their fly, I’d probably be swimming for the rod anyhow.
So, I had them practice first with no flies to get the feel of things and to keep them from impaling themselves, each other or me with #8 wooly buggers. It didn’t take long for their casts to find some semblance of a rhythm and the line started cooperating. They laughed at the headwinds, as Vikings are want to do. I tied on their flies and they went on their futile way, jaws set in a grimace-grin, to hunt for Red October.

But the wild rumpus was not complete without meeting their cousins for a trip to the sand pit out back of the golf course. A half-dozen kids leaping, over and over and over again from high crumbling ledges onto loose sand slopes, riding a minor avalanche 40 or so feet to the bottom, stopping only to empty their boots or shake handfuls of sand from their underwear.

Then we were on the hunt for sheds in the Locust groves that grow between the sand pit and the woods of Boughton Park. Following well run deer trails, they found old buck rubs and scrapes and droppings, any sheds by this time most-likely carried off by coyotes or rendered down by mice. Just before we left, tired and sandy and red-cheeked, ready to answer the call of hot-dogs and curly fries, we found a bleach-white fox skull, still holding its teeth. On the ride home, Cam asked first: dad, can I take it to school tomorrow?
Is a frog’s butt water-tight? I replied.
Nothing but laughs from the back seat. Spring is here.


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