Lakes, ponds and rivers have a gentle way of massaging away the concerns of this world. That’s usually why we are drawn to the water. In his novel, Where the River Ends, Charles Martin said it this way: “People come to this river for lots of reasons. Some of us are hiding, some of us are escaping, some of us are looking for a little peace and quiet, maybe trying to forget, anything to ease the pain we carry, but … we all come thirsty.”
When I was a small child, my grandfather used to take my sister and me fishing at Catfish Lake, located just south of the city. I was always a shy kid who wasn’t comfortable around a lot of people. It’s one of the reasons I loved hopping in my grandfather’s truck on a Saturday morning to head for Catfish Lake. By the way, nothing beat jumping into my grandfather’s truck on a Saturday morning, knowing we were headed for Catfish Lake.
As we pulled up to the place, it always smelled fishy, which gave me hope because if I could smell fish, there must be fish in the lake, and that meant I might just catch one.
As my grandfather baited my hook, my anxieties about being around other people disappeared and my senses came to life. He’d get his own line in the water, then we’d wait … in silence. I think the silence is what I liked best. There’s nothing like sitting next to someone you love and not needing to say anything.
But it wasn’t the type of silence you experience in a library. It was the type of silence that allows you to hear things you wouldn’t ordinarily hear – a frog jumping into the water from the shoreline, a fish jumping out of the water across the lake and then splashing on impact, and the drone of insects.
When the fish weren’t biting, my grandfather would tell me I wasn’t holding my mouth open the right way while holding my pole. He was a bit of a kidder. That’s probably where I got it from. The thing is, I don’t think I ever fully believed him about the mouth thing, but that’s not to say I didn’t try holding my mouth open once or twice, just in case he might be right. I’m pretty sure I looked like a big mouth bass when I did it.
People who know me now would say I’m not an outdoorsy type of person because I don’t like heat or insects, and they would be partially correct. But I still love the silence that can only be found when you are near water. And it makes me want to seek it more often.