“Nope, I answered. “But I have been working on that a long time.”
The kid’s name was Haven; he was five years old, and learning to use his powers of observation. How does one complain about that?
“We stopped to get a sandwich, then we stopped at a Rutters and got some worms,” said Ron Stine, the adult half of the Bluegill harvesting team. While we chatted, Haven cranked in another Bluegill.
Sunnies, we called them when I was a kid. Short for sunfish. We didn’t eat them because Mom said they had too many bones – which I later learned was another way of saying they had too little meat. But I read someplace they made excellent fertilizer, dropped in the hole with the corn seeds. Judging by the attention paid to growing corn by the local deer and raccoon population, the fishy fertilizer didn’t hurt the flavor any.
A turtle slipped off a low rock where it had been soaking sun. I slowly eased up the shore, trying to get a better angle while not seeming to get closer. Finally, I saw it, the nose and eye peering just above the surface. The sun glare blocked me seeing more than a shadow below the surface. I am not knowledgeable enough to know what kind of turtle it was, though it resembled a snapper.
About six feet separated us as we looked at each other. Finally, I moved away, hoping I would return to find the critter back on its chosen rock. I apologized for disturbing it’s sun-bath.
I got a few nice pictures of dragonflies – they are a bit difficult to convince to be still – and one of a nice bass.
Then, while I was talking with Ron and Haven, the snake arrived. Ron saw it first, curled back on itself, lying on the bottom of about six inches of water, only its head poking above the surface. I’ve seen numerous snakes while on my wanderings, but never as fully submerged.
While we watched, the reptile swam underwater a few yards down the shore, and slipped up to the water’s edge as though thinking of getting out. After a few moments, he thought better of the idea and swam a few feet farther along the shore, Maybe it was hunting. I moved closer to it, maybe six or eight feet, close enough to get a better shot with the camera, not so close it would get a better shot at me.
All the while, Haven watched, weighing the advice of those who said we didn’t know what kind of snake it was. Very likely, it would leave before the little guy got close to it, but maybe not. Best to stay back and just watch.
Finally, Mr. Snake (or was it Ms.) backed away from the shore, dove into about four feet of water and swam off to the lily pads. Later, we decided it was a harmless Northern Water Snake.
One of the best things a person can do is wander afield with a kid. I have spent many of my older days wandering among the trees with grandkids. And I spent many wandering days as a youngster, alone.
It makes one feel a bit more alive, sharing with a young person the experience of spending time among those with whom, or which (a nod to the grammarians), we share the planet. And maybe the kid will have a story to tell about the old guy they met with a fat belly and a camera, who may have been having a baby.