It’s been another roller-coaster week. Beginning on an even plane today, having stepped into my routine, coffee gone I made a pot of tea. At my desk, I pulled a file from my trusty drafts folder and dove in.
As I worked something began flickering somewhere on by mind’s periphery. Static images don’t easily distract me, but I can’t ignore a flicker. After a few minutes, still unable to keep my mind in my work I laced up, stretched out and hit the trail.
Returning refreshed, invigorated and focused I wrapped up the task, set it aside to cure and headed for the shower.
Back at work, after starting a new file I noticed the flicker again. Something intangible seemed to be vying for my attention. I checked my calendar and confirmed I hadn’t missed an important date. I turned to the white board to keep focused.
Satisfied with my outline I returned to my text. After some time that nagging feeling I couldn’t identify was back. The file was ready to rest, so I closed it for the time being and sat quietly to meditate and clear my mind.
Before very long thinking of nothing turned into pleasant memories; a stream, Poppy and my Uncle, wet rocks and the exhilarating air among the pines that filled the landscape surrounding my grandparents’ cabin. We were fishing. I would cast my line and happily watch the lure disappear into the water.
I felt the pole in my hands jerk. I pulled the rod back in the opposite direction as I had watched Poppy and Unc do often. Wheeel! Whizz! bzzzz… Splash! A trout. My very first catch. I didn’t care that the sun was burning my face. I was so mesmerized by the life pulling and tugging back and forth at the end of my line.
Unc stood there with the net still at his side. “It’s a keeper. What ya wanna do, Girl?” My arms frozen, one hand gripped tightly around the cork pole grip, my other hand reaching for the line. Sunlight set the colors of the fish dazzling as it swished and bent back and forth across the water. As I reeled it in closer and lifted it, I felt its desperation to return to the water.
I glanced at Unc’s face. That wink – assuring me he’d be proud of whatever I wanted to do. I heard Poppy some yards farther up, urging Unc to net the fish. I wanted Poppy to be proud of my catch too. I wanted everyone to be impressed as we walked up to the porch like they were when my brother brought in his first catch the summer before. I wanted to feel that way badly. Then I saw the fish’s eyes. And Unc saw into mine.
Six foot tall, Unc’s long-legs easily stepped around blocking Poppy’s view of me, he never took his eyes from mine as I gazed at “my” catch. Pocket knife already in his hand he snapped it open. It felt like hours flew by while the fish struggled against my line. I couldn’t put my all into reeling and pulling it closer. Still watching me carefully, Unc cut the line and just that quickly the fish was gone from sight. I felt instantly relieved.
His smile bright as the sun, he bent and splashed the water with the free hand, bringing the net close between us and then called over his shoulder to Poppy, “Aw, the line broke.” Poppy fussed under his breath as Poppy sometimes did. Still smiling, Unc straightened and responded, “We should’ve used that other reel.” Catching the end of my line, he quietly said to me, “We needn’t mention the knife. Hamburgers sound better to me anyway.” Again, that understanding wink.
And in another instant I could feel my breath again exactly as I felt it way back then. Relieved. I remember gathering pine cones on the way back, our arms free of any fish. Unc would point to bare spots teasingly to send me where there were no pine cones and we’d laugh.
I took a deep breath, gazed out the window to the giant pines across the street and imagined I could smell them through the closed windows. Unc had always been my hero but there is so much more to tell about him.
I returned to my desk…
To be continued.