Life is short: Go fishing instead


“The chant of frogs, from ponds and side ditches and water holes, is the first really official announcement of spring. It has another effect, too. It inspires farm boys to scoop up frogs’ eggs and bring them to the house, in a glass jar, to see what happens.

“The call of April brings the fisherman out of hibernation. There is a particular blessing to be had from walking in a woods or a field from which no other harvest is exacted except that blessing.

“As the population of the world steadily increases and land is nibbled away for public uses, the human hunger for mere space becomes continually more insistent.”

– Rachel Peden, 1950

Yesterday I was talking to a man who absolutely loves to go fishing.

“How often do you fish?” I asked this gray-haired man who looked more like a little boy than a grown man when he discussed his fishing adventures.

“Well, that depends,” he answered.

“Depends on what? The weather?” I asked.

He grinned, the orneriness shining through. “It depends on just how much stuff I can ignore at home!”

All in my mind. I was reminded, once again, that life isn’t always about what we seem to think simply must be done on any given day. Life is short.

This man told great stories about fishing adventures he’d been on with his brother, who is now passed on.

He didn’t talk about how good the fish tasted at the end of the day – he talked about the thrill of being out there, the fun of landing the fighters, the challenge of knowing just which bait to use to catch the big one that got away last time.

He also mentioned the fun of taking nieces and nephews along, convincing them how “important” it was to clean the fish until they, too, discovered that catching the fish was much more fun than cleaning them.

“That little trick didn’t work quite long enough,” he said with a chuckle.

In the farm pond. I remember so well my dad’s uncle, Sam Young, coming to our farm for an entire day every now and then, just to fish.

I wondered at the time why he would drive all the way to our farm – certainly there were better places to go than our farm pond.

It seemed he threw almost everything back, so what was the point?

I remember his wife, who simply could not see any of us children without pinching our cheeks and telling us how much we all had grown, just sitting there on the lawn chair he had packed in the car’s trunk just for her. She would watch him fish for hours on end.

Own little heaven. Sam seemed to be in his own little heaven as he fished an entire day away.

I know now that it had nothing to do with catching the best fish for their supper. It was the entire experience that they enjoyed.

Knowing my great uncle, he had probably packed the car several days in advance, he’d probably baked bread and cookies the day before, carefully packing a lovely picnic basket filled with treats to enjoy throughout the day.

He enjoyed leaving the city and coming to the farm, seeing his nephew working hard, building a successful life through sweat and sacrifice. A few fish in the bucket at the end of the day seemed merely a bonus, I am sure.

Still believing. My son used to love to fish. Cort has great memories of digging for bait, getting the fishing poles ready, spending cool morning hours with “Papa Brooksie,” the man who he counts as a bonus grandfather, reeling in bass and bluegill, helping to clean them, enjoying the feast of fresh fish and fried potatoes in Gramma Ruth’s wonderfully inviting kitchen.

“We’re gonna do that again sometime,” Cort still says with conviction.

It’s great to know that good memories can carry a fellow across a lifetime.

Ignore some work, ignore those aches and pains if there is any way possible. It’s springtime, and you are only given so many of those in a lifetime.


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.