The Fog On The Lake (Gone Fishin')

Alex George had been taking his nephew and his nephew’s friends fishing for most of the past twenty summers. This usually entailed rising at an ungodly hour on his usually reserved Saturdays to drag his tired body along this muggy lakeside trail and finally gain the small lake, which the morning mists shroud in a cool grey mantle. As the morning progressed, this sporadic fog was beginning to lift.

Slowly the diffused light was metamorphosing from chilly cinereal miasma to a dawn of suffused gold, holding all the expectations of this diverse band of anglers, veteran and novice alike. The racket the younger boys put up betrayed their immaturity. Alex admonished these with the time-honored rebuke to those new to the angler’s craft: “Quiet down, boys, you’ll scare off the fish”.

The older boy, Scott, groaned at this. He had come along only reluctantly on the advice of his father, Alex’s brother. He had heard all this many times before. “You’ll scare the fish. You’ll scare the fish” was a mantra that defined these excursions. For years, Scott had listened wonderingly to this admonishment. Exactly what are these fish going to be afraid of, he deduced; they had enough concerns beneath the surface, let alone what was transpiring above it.

For Alex, too, it had become a perfunctory caveat geared primarily toward attaining some tranquility on these Saturday morning outings. Where had he first heard the warning? Probably from his own uncle who had taken him on similar jaunts during his long ago youth. Had he been quite so noisy? Probably so, he reasoned, as he recalled his rambunctious behavior at the same age.

Scott was remembering his youth as well. In those days, he could barely wait for Saturday to come as that meant fishing with Uncle Alex, a particular favorite at that time. Now, Alex seemed an anachronism, a relic of forgotten days, a bore. These fishing trips had fast become nearly irrelevant. What more could Alex possibly teach him. There was a time when Alex’s words moved Scott immeasurably. Scott tried to recall when his inanities actually seemed to make inordinate sense; those days were gone.

Scott was drowning in adolescent indolence. He had long since stopped regarding Alex’s platitudes as gospel. Nowadays he preferred staying at home on Saturdays playing with his Xbox; fishing could not possibly hold the buzz of the newest video games. He had only tagged along as a favor to his father with perhaps the hope of recapturing the magic of earlier trips.

Suddenly, a pair of black bear cubs appeared out of the mist, frolicking on the end of the dock. The younger boys quickly put themselves between the cubs and any possible egress. Just as unexpectedly, an adult bear – presumably the matriarch –rose up from the brush-filled hillside behind the boys. Recognizing the danger imminent in placing oneself between a mother and her cubs, Alex repeated his prior warning. “Quiet down, boys”, he hoarsely whispered.

For their part, the boys were in no need of any such rebuke; they stood stock-still, frozen in abject fear of their predicament. “Listen to Uncle Alex”, Scott said, believing once again in the irrefutable truth of his learned uncle’s pronouncements. Abruptly, the mama bear grunted an admonition of her own, signaling her errant progeny.

The boys stepped aside allowing the fretful cubs the needed space for exit. After clambering to their mother’s side, the trio rumbled through the brush and up the hillside, defusing a potentially disastrous situation. After rearing once more to assess any continuing jeopardy to her brood, the bears lumbered into the brush leaving the fishing party in stunned silence.

“That was a perfect example of what I am always telling you boys. Right, Scott”. “Right”, echoed Scott. “You only have yourselves to fear in the wilderness”, he said, citing one of his uncle’s favorite assertions. “How true”, thought Scott, reassessing his prior appraisal of the level of excitement of video games versus fishing trips.

© Stephen Alexander 2008

The Fog On The Lake (Gone Fishin')

stephen hewitt

Lanexa, United States

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Alex Goes Fishing

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