Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Catching Flowers Instead of Fish

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Catching Flowers Instead of Fish

Article excerpt

MY daughter truly intended to become a devoted angler. When she was 7, the urge took hold. I bought her a cheap steel rod, some line, and half a dozen hooks. My father, Pee-Wee, an inveterate outdoorsman, had greater expectations for her. He presented her with a well-oiled reel, a hank of snell for her hooks, which, he criticized with a scornful eye on me, were much too big and crude. He gave her a fistful of punctured corks, too, carefully counted out of his personal kitchen-drawer treasury.

The Izaak Walton business lasted as long as the violin endeavor did later - almost half a season. By the time summer advanced, Nancy was more interested in wading at the skirts of the pond, which was Pee-Wee's lifelong oasis. While he sat contemplating on a mica-glinting rock, holding his pole slack, she soaked the tip of hers in the water. She carelessly laid it down in the mud to corral a school of minnows or to go after fat tadpoles with ineffectually cupped hands.

"Watch your cork," Pee-Wee would sigh. Nancy obeyed one moment but in the next forgot. The world about her was plainly too seductive. A blue dragonfly suspended over a broad arrowhead, sunning himself. A nymph climbed up a stalk of pickerelweed and fanned wings that grew more gorgeous by the minute as they dried out. A bullfrog croaked in the marsh down by the cove, and from nearby another responded. A turtle slid silently off a waterlogged limb. A ribbon of snake swam across the pond, describing a graceful "S" through the calm, its head held erect above the surface. Sunlight speckled the ripples and sent showers of reflective diamonds into the blue air. Even when Nancy squinched her eyes against the brilliance, the patterns glittered behind tight lids.

A fisherman's thoughts are long, wholesome thoughts, Pee-Wee patiently impressed on Nancy. A fisherman's mind wanders in a labyrinth of pleasant meditation byways. He lays plans, solves problems, dreams great dreams. He thinks thankfully about the miracles that surround him. Such contemplation becomes a personal prayer. He proclaims with the psalmist: "Lord, I love the beauty of your house." The sun is kind on the fisherman's shoulders, while cool water laps at his feet. …

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