Sunday, September 4, 2011

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

Yesterday, here in Australia, was Father's Day.  I think that for some reason this celebration falls on different days around the world.  Needless to say, I celebrated with Chris the fact that he was a Father and tried to spoil him as much as he wanted.
Then I started thinking about my Dad, and how even though this celebration is honoured earlier in the year in the States, he was still being honoured in my thoughts.  I thought a fitting tribute to him might be a story about one of our fishing adventures together.

It was the 4th of July, and I was about 9 years old.  (maybe even younger), and Dad had gotten me out of bed before the sun was even up!  As I sat in the kitchen and ate my bowl of Cheerios, and shivered in the early morning anticipation of a fun experience, Dad was busy getting last minute things ready for our excursion!

I quickly ran back upstairs, and grabbed 'my fishing clothes' and met Dad out by his station wagon, (his fishing car) and climbed in the front seat as he loaded the last of the tackle boxes and the fishing poles. We were going to fish in a small outlet of the Mississippi, near a neighbouring area north of town.  The sun was starting to smile at us, and I knew that today would be a good one!  We could be having sunfish or maybe Misssissippi catfish for dinner before the July 4 fireworks that night!

We had gathered worms for bait the night before.  (Dad had made a special worm catching electronic device which made the worms jump up out of the moist lawn, and I always had fun gathering the squirming, slimy worms and shoving them in the can of moist soil that we had waiting.)

We arrived at the fishing spot, and the sun was just peaking through and beginning to smile at us.  Early morning was always the best time to catch the Mississippi fish, because they were interested in anything we gave them, as a breakfast treat.  (Or at least that was what I always thought!)

Dad had caught a few Sunfish, and I had caught a few small ones - none of them keepers.  Then suddenly something was snagged on my line, and I struggled with it for a while.  Eventually I brought it in, only to discover that it was river turtle!   Dad netted it, and we brought it onshore.  I decided to keep it.  It was about 6-8 inches across on its shell, and looked like it would be fun to investigate!

We loaded the fish into a cooled container, and wrapped the turtle in a river soaked towel, and gently laid it on the floor at the back of the wagon.  I was excited.  I think Dad was too!  It had been a great find, and a great morning!

When we arrived home, we filled an old metal wash stand which stood against the back of the house, with water, a large rock, and some water plants.  Then we put the turtle inside, and hoped he would settle.  If he made it through the night, I was hoping to make him a pet.

I told one of our neighbours about my catch, Bill, who I have spoken of previoulsy, and he said that "Turtles make pretty good eating, little Miss!"  "Not my turtle!  He'll make a better pet", I replied.

That night the neighbourhood got together for a 4th July picnic food sharing time, and we all watched the fireworks from a neighbour's backyard.  There was laughter, and races, and food and music and lots of sparklers being swung around by all the kids.

As the night was drawing to a close, and we made our way home, I went to check on my Turtle, (who I had decided to name Myrtle), but he/she was gone!  Nothing else was disturbed, just an empty water stand - no turtle!

I looked all over the ground, and all around the backyard, just in case Myrtle was an amazing climbing turtle--but couldn't find it anywhere.

I looked suspiciously at Bill for a few weeks after that - checking to see if his face signalled any looks of guilt towards my way.  But either he was very good at acting, or Myrtle was indeed a very good escape turtle!

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