I have been rummaging around deep in my memory bank—about 65years or so— and I am re-living one of my childhood experiences. It occurred on the shores of the Green River or Panther Creek, south of my town. My thoughts, concerning the events of that day have lingered, the geography, not so much!. For the sake of keeping my mind on the memory, rather than its location, I am saying it was Panther Creek.
The trees were tall and straight entwined with thick ropy wild grape vines, and there were little weed beds beneath them, just tufts of soft green wide bladed grass the kind you want to roll in. There was a broad expanse of woods on either side of the wide snaking stream. I wanted to run through the woods to find its deep heart; I wanted to wade in the cool water. I wanted to be free to live here if I chose, maybe in a tree house. Hardly ever did I exist in the moment. I was always searching for the next "thing."
A wild uncontrolled excitement lived inside me; this day, I was going to learn to fish. I would be coached by one of my uncles or Papa himself. I didn’t need much teaching, if someone just put a fat wiggly worm on my hook, I would be fishing in a flash… finally, as I perched on the top edge of the sandy bank and waited for a fish to become interested in my dangling hook, I dreamed. What if I took a little walk and let my feet go where they wanted to wander? What if I closed my eyes and spun around, bringing my dreams to life, and when I stopped I would robustly march off in that direction.
The trees where skinny here but deeper in the woods they were even taller, thick, intriguing, and they were “naturally” sending signals to me. Maybe I would get a wee bit lost... just enough to cause my entire family to frantically search― in what now seemed a looming jungle―as their calls for me would turn to desperate pleas. After many tears were shed, I, the brave survivor, would jump from behind the tallest tree, perhaps, in one hand a strong stick I had used for protection, and a fist full of wild blackberries in the other. I, the victorious survivor would be the center of the celebration and would be encouraged to eat all I wanted of my Grandmother’s delicious desserts!
Or… (My scenarios were increasing!)
My Grandfather Brought me back to lucidness as he was replacing the poor tattered worm on my hook with a fresh one. Suddenly, he shouted, "Look there is a red-headed woodpecker!" As my head jerked to see the bird, my fishing line jumped in my hand and Poppa yelled, "Pull it in!" The deed was done; I had caught my first blue gill! I strutted around holding my four-inch fish by its pretty tail― it flopped grotesquely in the wind— for a while.
What a thrill! The “catch” was more electrifying than hiding in the dense forest and building a tree house and living off the fruit of the forest and sleeping with the small furry animals and being a brave girl. More exciting than it would be with my return home years, or days later. Everyone in my whole family and all the neighbors on 21st. Street would gathered around me and stare in unbelief. Because I was a hero, they would hug, kiss, love on and pet me more than anyone who has ever before had to put up with such mushiness. I would be sweet to all and humbly say a soft mundane “Thank you.” As I swiftly, but gracefully jumped off their shoulders and strolled to my house to recuperate, eat, sleep and maybe shower.
I later decided that the act of catching my first fish truly was more important than conquering the deep dark forest of my visions. I felt a new challenge to go forward from that day to become a super fisher-woman. I would provide food for my family, and it would be the most delicious fish anyone had ever eaten. Even if I should cut my finger, be stuck with the hook, or tangled in the line, I would never, stop catching those fantastic fish! Oh yes, It was a wonderful day, one that has been emblazoned in my memory. When I replay it, I am in always in a "golden glow" mood. The elusive goal for my life finally became attainable!
I struggled with warring emotions many years later when my uncle, who was barely older than I was, told me the truth about that day. When Poppa yelled, "Look!" and I did—I did not see the woodpecker anywhere—he put a little sacrificial fish on my hook and threw it with a “plop” back in the water. "What!" It bothered me for about two minutes, and then with my maturing mind; I realized that had been an act of love, not trickery. For the young dreamer, “the day” had grown my esteem, self-respect and imagination. For the mature dreamer I became, it changed my perspective from, who will prove their love by noticing me to "Wow" they love me just because…
Scripture such as this spurred me on as a child, and seemed to speak to me in a very special way.
"Thank you Lord for providing your special word for an unruly, imaginative, adventurous child such as I, and I know, that you know I inserted my name right before the period, and I think you loved it!"
"Leopards will lie down with young goats, and wolves will rest with lambs. Calves and lions will eat together and be cared for by little children."
Isaiah 11:06 CEV