Friday, September 7, 2007

One Fish, Two Fish, Three Fish, and a Toad

So, Jim took me fishing on Labor Day. It was my first "official" fishing trip and I had never caught a fish in my whole 25 years of life! I knew God promised to make us "fishers of men," if we follow Him, but I was pretty sure He didn't have to make me a good fisher-type-lady.

Jim showed off his manly fishing skills very successfully.

He made his first catch, who I eagerly and excitedly named "Virgil." I was very proud of Virgil, that he so bravely bit the line of deceit my hubby had cast only a moment before.

After Jim and Virgil, the 13" Large Mouth Bass took their picture together, things got pretty boring.

"I'm bored of this pole." I said, shaking out the cramp in my right hand.

"Let's trade," Jim offered. "This pole is lighter."

I gladly obliged myself to the "lighter" pole and began fishing away.

Not two minutes after we switched poles, Jim starts tugging away at his line as if he's got a bite.

"No way!" I whined. "That's MY pole!" (I was apparently already territorial about the fishing pole on which I learned to fish.)

"You can't catch a fish with my pole!" I continued, "That means it's my fish then!"

Jim smiled that understanding and adoring smile and continued the fight with "his" catch. He pulled in another, more fiesty Large Mouth Bass, about 9".

"Frank." I said decidedly. "We're calling this one 'Frank.' Doesn't he look like a 'Frank?' Look at his eyes, you can see it in his eyes, can't you!?"

We unhooked the unfortunate fish, who flopped around angrily, and tied him to the line with Virgil.

"Virgil, Frank; Frank, Virgil." I introduced, as if they had never crossed currents in the lake. "You two play nice, now." I turned to my contented husband, "Jim, we're trading poles again." I held out my hand and Jim graciously gave me "my" pole back.

At length, the boring factor of fishing began to set in and after several stretched out minutes of lots of casting and reeling, casting and reeling, pulling off icky weeds, casting and reeling, I felt a non-weedlike tug!

"Oooh, ooooh! I think it's a real fishie!" I exclaimed half nervous and half overjoyed.

My excitement overwhelmed me and somehow, the line got tangled at the top of my pole, which made the so-called "art" of Reeling In very, very difficult.

"Bring it in. Bring it in." Jim coached. He's a nice calm coach when I'm in the middle of a freak-out frenzy, which I was at that moment.

After a bit of a fight (with the pole, not my fish), out of the water came "my fish," another Large Mouth Bass measuring roughly 10", who I lovingly called "Eddie." He was fairly docile. I think he knew he was doomed from the start, poor guy. We took some pictures, for which Eddie posed very nicely (it was his lot in life, you know), and then we strung him up with the others. But he was privileged to have the longest line of temporary freedom so he could swim beneath MY side of the boat.

So Virgil, Frank, Eddie, Jim and I putted in our little boat back to shore. It was dark by then and our fishing journey was over for the night. But, on the contrary, our CATCHING journey was not!

As we were putting away the equipment, Jim sent me off to the car with a plastic grocery bag in my left hand, and Virgil, Frank and Eddie all strung in a row, in my right. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a hopping thing. It wasn't just any ordinary hopping thing, like a cute fluffy bunny or a lost kangaroo. It was a very huge (ok, I'm exaggerating) TOAD. He was about the size of my fist, maybe a hair smaller.

Since my cool brother-in-law Ben caught (actually, saved from the roaring lawnmower) and kept a teeny toad named Calvin who was later joined by a frog, sighted and named Hobbs by yours truly, I felt a peculiar urge to continue the trend. I prepared the plastic grocery bag in my left hand as a sort of glove (I was already fighting the heebie-jeebies of slimy fish and I didn't want a wart), and I slowly approached the large toad.

"Gotcha!" I cried. "I got him! I got him! I got him!" I yelled in the direction of the shed where Jim was dutifully putting things away.

Jim came running out as though I were in danger. Heaving and slurring his words together like he just ran a marathon, he asked "What'swrong?Whathappened?"

"Look!" I held up my suffocating toad who was writhing around in my plastic-clad hand.

I began to feel a bit like I was being cruel, because he kept writhing like he couldn't breath or something, so I put him in a big bucket. "Can we take him home?" I asked Jim.

"Sure," he said, "There's lots of food in our backyard."

"Will he stay? Do you think he has a home here and a family waiting for him?" I inquired like a child.

"He should stay in the yard." he answered my first question. "And toads are solitary creatures, he'll be fine if we transfer him."

I picked up my new toad, obviously less afraid of acquiring warts by this time. "Marshall," I called him for the first time by name, "you're coming home with me."

When we arrived home that night, we accomodated our guests accordingly. Marshall looked like he would enjoy the lush, rich, buggy-ness of our backyard as he very quickly, with a hop, skip and a jump, introduced himself to hiding, while Virgil, Frank and Eddie, enjoyed a more cozy welcome indoors (of the refridgerator, that is), and with one less layer of warmth upon them, for they were now little fillets. And, as we all know, fillets enjoy cooler, dryer climates as they are stored for their final destiny.

Virgil, Frank and Eddie joined us for dinner the next night. We all enjoyed fresh lemon juice, lots of pepper and lightly buttered rice as a side. I would like to think we'll enjoy the company of our three newfound friends, but chances are, we will not. We'll be fishing again this weekend, so we won't be lacking for company or for food.

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