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Friday, March 4, 2011

Fishing, part 2

One of our wonderful vacations in Maine was spent in a lodge right on the banks of Owls Head bay. At the invitation of Barbara's brother and sister-in-law we enjoyed the accommodations of the family vacation cabin. Barbara's parents also joined this party. My father-in-law, the Rev. Russell D. Piper, a charming and engaging scrounge, accepted the invitation of the neighbor to spend the day on his lobster boat. He returned with eight lobsters which he "stole" for $6. They were boiled in an iron pot which had probably been used identically for 60 years or so. So here we all were, dipping lobster meat in reservoirs of drawn butter, licking our fingers, and thinking, as the bay gently lapped the shore not 200 feet behind us, "It doesn't get better than this." Our kids ate all the hot dogs they wished, and only years later bitterly complained that they were deprived of this feast.

The next day I took our three boys fishing. There were challenges against this project. Our only boat was a leaky row boat with no anchor. To exacerbate the challenge, the shore was quite rocky and the wind was determined that we steadily head for those rocks. Not to worry. There was a cut out gallon milk jug for bailing the water, and Daddy was here to protect his crew. We loaded the boat with clams for bait, and rowed out 100 yards. After a while I developed a routine. After rowing, I would bait three hooks and help my apprentice fishermen cast out their lines, usually in different directions. When that was finished, I took to bailing out the considerable amount of water we had already taken aboard. This was barely manageable, but the additional "problem" was that these fish were exceptionally hungry. I had to abandon my bailing to help the boys land each fish and then bait each hook again. By this time the rocks were ominously close. "Lines in!" It was already time to row out again. This was the kind of work that kept me busy all day. But it was delightful work because the kids were having so much fun.

Later that day Calvin asked his grandfather why he didn't catch as many fish, since he was reputed to be a great fisherman. Russ just laughed, having a good sense of humor, and not willing to explain that he was fishing for a variety that required a good deal more finesse.

When my sister-in-law treated us to a typical Maine clam dinner, steamed over an outdoor fire (with seaweed for the steam), I ate very few. It was not possible after the events of the day to associate these critters with anything besides slimy bait.

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