Saturday, April 29, 2006

A Celebration of Life

Ethan has been very vocal that he would like to go fishing. We are also supposed to make a poster about Ethan for his kindergarten class that tells about him and what he likes to do. I thought it would be good to include a picture of him fishing so today (after the drug test and after lunch) we went to the local pond.

Yes, it's spring and we were ready for a faceful of nature. We found that the pond was a little lower than usual and pretty aromatic with swamp-smell. The edges of the pond were lined with empty drink containers and general pond-scum. When we got there I declared: "We will catch the biggest goldfish in the pond." Because I know that is what Ethan wanted to do. There are some pretty big ones in there. We saw a lot of ducks and a few eggs and some pet-store turtles sunning themselves on a log but mostly we noticed things like a big dead catfish and a big dead duck. It isn't uncommon to see a big rat or a bullfrog hanging around.

The catfish was big enough that you probably couldn't reach both hands around it. Some kids who were fishing nearby determined that the duck had suffered a fatal gunshot wound, most likely issued by a kid named "Casey." All kids named "Casey" are bad, they claimed.

It was a popular day for fishing. The russian olive trees that line the banks kind of look like christmas trees, full of shiny red bobbers. I pulled a worm out of a container and snapped off the end of its body. Then I jabbed the hook through him a few times. Ethan watched me and asked, "Does that hurt him, dad?"

I said, "Yes. But he's going to have to be mad at God for making him a worm because that's what people do to them."

The sunfish and bluegills kept nibbling our worm and dragging him around but none of them would get on the hook. Eleanor took our baby out of the stroller and it wasn't long before she handed him to me. Our now-three-year-old took the opportunity to hop into our sherman-tank stroller and strap herself in. A few seconds later Eleanor screamed and I looked over just in time to see Olivia roll off the bank, face-first into the water; on top of the dead duck and below the stroller. I jumped to the edge of the water where she went in but I was holding our baby and camera and felt helpless to do anything. Eleanor jumped right in the water. I watched for what seemed like a long time as Eleanor fumbled around but she couldn't seem to get our daughter's head above water. I'm sure any amount of time is a "long time" when you are three years old and you are facedown in dead duck water.

I got annoyed with the situation. We spent way too much money on diapers and formula to let her die so lamely. Still holding the baby, I reached down from the bank and grabbed one of the wheel-axles on the stroller and lifted the whole apparatus, coughing-bawling toddler and all, up out of the water. Furniture-moving power to the rescue! Eleanor was going nuts trying to make Olivia feel better. Ethan sprung into action, too. He said, "We have to save Jonah's bottle!" and he plunged into the knee-deep water to get it. Jonah was probably grinning to himself because his socks were floating in the water, lapping up against the dead duck next to the drinks and licorice we had bought. Everything had fallen out of the stroller. We had to borrow a net from the nearby kids. They had watched the whole event and when I asked them if I could borrow their net to get OUR garbage out of the pond, they asked, "What for?"

We got things in order and made the long walk back to the car. Olivia's galoshes were still full of swamp water. We didn't get a picture of Ethan fishing or catch a fish. And our house smells like a swamp. The weather is great! Get out there and enjoy it like us!

P.S. I could do a lot more good in this world if I wasn't holding babies all the time. Things like that come up all the time, like the other day when I could have stopped a shopping cart that was rolling downhill at about 5 mph from slamming into someones parked car. Oh, well. Me and Jonah will laugh about it all later.


Anonymous said...

I think that those are the best kinds of memories, though. The ones where everyone can't WAIT to get home, everyone's like, "WTF? Why did we even want to go do that together?" Those are the ones that you will sit around your table laughing so hard you are crying when they are teenagers. Sorry about that swamp smell, though.

Native Minnow said...

That's scary. I'm glad your family was able to come away relatively unscathed, aside from the emotional trauma of drinking dead duck water and smelling of swamp.

I do love the idea of a worm being upset at God for making him a worm because people rip them in half and shove hooks through them. Sounds like something from The Far Side.

Maybe you could put this story on Ethan's poster, and say that he likes to save his baby brother's bottle from contaminated water. What a little superhero.

Native Minnow said...

It's also good to see that I'm not the only dad who takes mean pictures of my kids while they're crying. Poor Livie Girl.

ShootingStar said...

I think in the end there really isn't anything better in this world you should be doing than holding your baby. Kids are hope--you said it yourself.

Glad the 3-yr old survived and all those diapers weren't a waste.