It was about noon as I sat there. For a long while I just sat, as the morning sun shown down with it’s rays that held such promise and were less harsh than the rays that would follow as it rose in the sky and turned to day. Out across the lake the water glistened and the the banks where the water once rose shown dry and bare, without the water to cover them up. We were in a drought, had been for a couple years, four or five years the water had gotten lower I would say, but I’m not certain on the exact amount of time.
I came every Monday with my two black fishing poles. Nothing newfangled and fancy, just two plain fishing poles. Too many people these days get caught up in all this fancy gear . I’ve been fishing since I was a young boy and never once needed half the stuff people tote around these days. Me, all I needed was my bologna sandwiches, my poles, some water and my bucket and off I would go with my straw hat to spend the day fishing.
Usually I would start off on my own and by the time the sun was high in the sky there were a couple water skiers out on the lake and mothers toting children of all sizes with enough food and towels to last them much longer than the hour or two most of them would end up spend down by the lake. It reminded me of my own mother back in England and the summer trips we made to the seaside when I was a child. We would run along the shore, in and out of the rocks. When we tired, father would teach me how to bait my hook and mother would feed us sandwiches.
Then the war came and everything changed and we no longer went to the seaside and there wasn’t enough food for bountiful picnics. Sitting on my bucket with my two fishing poles I didn’t think of this though. Mostly I just liked to sit there and become a part of the landscape. No one bothered me and I didn’t bother them. Sometimes I would take notice of a particular person and wonder what brought them here. Today, a young girl of about 17 came down with her her family. Her long flowing hair and the way she danced in out out of the water took me back to when I was a young man with an accent in a different country.
It was on a hot, July day. I wasn’t quite 21. A group of us were swimming in the Pacific Ocean along the California coast, when I first heard her musical laughter and saw her dark brown hair blowing in the breeze. I was starstruck! Two years later Liddy and I were married when she turned 19. We had a good life together and when our son and daughter came along we would take them to the beach just like my mother and father had taken me. And I would fish and Liddy would feed us bologna sandwiches and potato chips.
Oh how I missed Lidy. We made such a great life together. We were going to grow old together. The kids had gone off to college and I was going to retire the next year. It all started with a simple fever, that turned out not to be so simple. Although she fought bravely, I lost Liddy that winter. She was still just as beautiful that day as the day I first saw her at 17, as I held her hand and smoothed back her hair and said goodbye until the glorious day we would one day meet again for eternity.
Every Monday I came and still do. But now I make my own bologna sandwiches and not Liddy, who would give me a peck on the check and hand them to me wrapped in waxed paper as I went out the door. I would sit there for hours and when someone reminded me of the past, I would smile and think of days gone by. How that boy was like my son at his age or how an old couple looked like my mother and father. And so I would sit and the young people would hardly take notice of me, so busy were they with life and living and being busy, little did they realize that given the chance, we all grow old.
So there I sat, alone, on my five gallon bucket in the sun. Life had been hard, but along with being bitter, there were also times that were very sweet. I was now an old man that no one noticed and as I watched families and people of all ages come and go, I would watch and think of how different life looked now, but what would I change? What wisdom could I impart on these young people, so like me at their age? Some things no telling could impart, what daily living and time would teach them. And so I sat and fished. I sat and fished on my bucket each Monday, with my two poles, a straw hat and Liddy’s bologna sandwiches.