Monday, July 13, 2009

Swimming with the fishes

I visited my dad and stepmom in the town where I grew up this past weekend. I hesitate to call it my hometown anymore because I haven't lived there since I graduated from high school, and that was a long time ago. Early in my post-college years, we moved around some. I lived in Cincinnati for a while. We did a brief stint in Pittsburgh, but Georgetown feels more like my hometown than anywhere else. I went to college here. My kids are growing up here. I'm entrenched in this community.

I still enjoy visiting my childhood hometown, though, and some visits are more nostalgic than others. My stepmom's family has a farm, and so we spent this visit in the country. I actually grew up on a farm, but Bruce tells me on a regular basis he feels somehow cheated. I kill everything I try to grow, and I have no desire to ever live more than five minutes from groceries. The thought of my 17 year old driving back country roads the way I did when I was 17 makes me cringe.

But I digress. My stepmom's family has created a swimming lake on their farm. An old wooden dock floating on giant drums sits midway across the water. You can swim out or cross the walkway. The walkway lists to the right, so if you have poor balance, you might end up swimming anyway. They've dug a section deep enough for a high dive. A rope is tied to the platform so you can pull yourself up the muddy bank when you want to take the plunge.

Suffice it to say this was an entirely new experience for the city boys I call my children. Except for the occasional trip to the ocean, their swimming experiences have been confined to heavily-chlorinated bodies of water enclosed in concrete. I wasn't sure if they would even get in the water, but they are after all boys, and it was a hot afternoon. All was well until they realized they shared the lake with fish. When one curious bluegill nipped at my younger son's leg, I thought he was going to walk on water in his hurry to regain dry land. The other boys followed, and for a while all they did was throw bread in the water to get the fish to surface. Eventually they found a fishing rod, and my older son's friend caught a small fish from the high dive.

The fish kept them out of the water for an hour or so, but like I said, they are boys, and eventually they dared each other back into the water. My merciless teasing probably had something to do with it as well. (Yes, I know...mother of the year.) After swimming for a while and not being eaten, my older son had a moment of brilliance. "Let's catch a fish while we're IN the water." I laughed at them...a lot, but my son is nothing if not inventive. Armed with only hotdog buns and a net, they laid their trap. They got vewwy, vewwy quiet, placed the net under a mass of soggy, floating buns, and waited. They ignored the adults' amused commentary from the bank. Three of them circled on rafts while my son, the mastermind, stayed in the water with his prey. They waited until the adults lost interest in teasing them, and then they waited some more.

Can you guess what happened? Yep. My son made like the crocodile hunter and caught a fish in that net while he was treading water next to it. I'll never laugh at his harebrained ideas again. Okay, maybe I will, but I was pretty darn impressed. That pride lasted as long as it took him to launch the poor fish halfway across the lake as part of his catch and release plan.

My boys won't trade the city life for country living anytime soon (neither will I), but it was a fun weekend. Everyone should swim with the fishes once in a while.


  1. Country living isn't so bad. We don't have a pond, but we have a huge backyard area and we're far enough from the city that we don't get traffic.

    It's nice out here. We know all the locals, and the kids are safe walking around the neighborhood without me worrying. And we pick blueberries by the bushel for free.

  2. In Texas, we call that kind of swimming lake a "tank." I remember my grandfather's tank at his ranch. All the grandkids swam in it whenever we were there.

    Straight From Hel

  3. Going back to a childhood town has its pros and cons. Great to see old friends, but it can also conjure up some pretty funky feelings, like your not as young as you used to be and you wonder if time is passing you by? Me, I'm glad I moved away. I never would have been the person I am today if I stayed. And I never would have met my wife.

    Stephen Tremp

  4. I love visiting the country, but I like having people around me too much to live there. I know it stems from my childhood when I stayed bored out of my mind half the time because we lived so far from everything.