It has been one of those days. I think I was tired before I even got to Miss Hobbs’ place this morning. She dug out the laundry pan–that is what I call it–and I knew this was the day I would be stirring her “unmentionables” on the stove until she deemed them ready for a good rinse. She has been talking about an inventory of her “rec” room, where canoes are stored overhead and all sorts of activity things are stored for the long ago campers. She never talks of the days of Camp Sebowisha and I’ll admit, taking inventories is not my favorite. But no! Today she had another chore in mind. Goodness! Spread out on her dining room table was more silverware than I have ever seen in my life! At home, there are six people and we have enough forks, spoons and knives to go around and glad of it! It would be an all day job, if the job was done right, Miss Hobbs’ said, as the cigaret dangled from the edge of her mouth and the ash ready to topple at any given moment. The polish was in a wide mouth jar and I was given several soft cloths . I polished. I wiped. It WAS an all day job, stopping only for a bite of sandwich and a glass of water at lunch time. I have decided that this is by far one of my least favorite jobs. I admit it was satisfying to see them gleaming in the sunlight through her window.
But now, I am on the down side of the mountain walking home and my hands feel as though they are still gritty from the polishing, even though I scrubbed them well after the final rinse of Miss Hobbs’ “unmentionables.” Dan Cole’s farm stands out like a beacon to tell me I have only a mile to go.
My mind is constantly turning and thinking and before I know it, I am walking up the driveway. Dad is sitting on the front steps and gives me a wave. Muff, you want to go fishing in a bit? Well, fishing is one of my favorite things to do and since we aren’t playing any baseball on the flat tonight, it seems like a crackerjack thing to plan. Oh, I didn’t mention before that most nights, some folks come down from Locke’s Mills and we get together a bunch to play baseball. That is a lot of fun and you never know who is going to show up or what is going to happen. One night I was playing second base, jumped up to catch a line drive, came down and someone sliding into the base spiked me in my right foot. I think it broke my toe because it is crooked, but after awhile it stopped hurting and seems to be the right size again. Only one person has spikes and no need of him to even wear them in a field, for heaven sakes.
But I am getting ahead of myself again. I want to go fishing and wander into the kitchen to see what Ma and the rest had for supper long before I got home. I finally decide on a hot dog and a big glass of water. The water is always so sweet that comes from Gram’s spring way up in her pasture. Ma looks tired after her day of work and she has finished with the supper dishes and flops into a chair. Are you going fishing with your father, she asks. I think so, I answer, and she says, well don’t stay out too late. You have work again tomorrow and morning comes quick.
I don’t know what she means by staying out too late. Dad has his pole all ready and I see it is his bamboo. He’s been over behind Gram’s barn digging worms, so I guess we are not trolling for brown trout. It is getting dusky out and Dad hollers in, Muff, are you ready? I have a pole for you and plenty of worms. I know now that we are going to one of his favorite fishing places and one he does not go to very often.
Into the car we jump and soon we are on our way to Greenwood City and park on the side of the road near Hicks Pond. Horn pouting we will go, Dad says, as we crawl out of the car. He places a pail between us and we get the worms on our hooks and toss out the line. I find a nice rock to sit on and Dad perches in the grass. I am hoping that he will remember that I like to catch horn pout, but I do not like taking them off the hook. I have been “stung” too many times. They are mean little critters and usually we eat perch, trout or bass but once in awhile Dad likes a good mess of horn pout. I guess this is one of those times.
My alder pole bends over and Dad says you got one, Muff, haul it in. Doesn’t take too long for me to flop it up on shore. Dad looks at me and grins and says, I remember. I’ll get it off for you. With a flick of his hand the fish is off the hook and into the pail.
We have five or six good sized fish now and are thinking of going home. it is very quiet and peaceful here. Over to the right , we can see lights from farm houses on Patch Mountain and I tell Dad this would not be a bad place to live. He grunts that it is close enough so we can drive anytime we want to come and adds it is time for us to load up and go home. I can hear an owl hoot way off in the forest and other night sounds. I ask Dad if it is true there are lots of snakes around Hicks Pond and Mud Pond. He says it is best not to even think about such a thing. Well, I wouldn’t if I were not deathly afraid of them and it IS dark after all.
We pull into the driveway and Dad says he will put the pail of fish in the brook water and will clean them when he gets home from work tomorrow. They will stay fresh in the flowing water. He knows I clean perch and such, but will not touch the horn pout. He promises me when I get home from Miss Hobbs’ tomorrow night, there will be one fried up crisp for me.
Well I declare, that will be something to think about while I clean the stair corners with my ten penny nail and rags tomorrow. Life is good.