This is the south pond on my grandfather's farm in Southern Illinois. He took all the grandkids fishing here. Often in the lazy hot summer the cows would stand in the shallow end and watch us quietly, only moving to swish away the flies with their tails. The sheep were more skittish and ran to the pine grove behind the barn when we approached.
The night before fishing we would water a spot behind the barn that was shady and then put down an old piece of wood or a bucket. Early the next morning , just about light, my grandpa and I would take our fishing rods, tackle, a bucket for fish (we were always optimistic), a shovel and a little plastic container to put the earthworms in and march off through the barnyard to our dampened spot. Here we would dig and collect the earthworms that had made their way up through the night. Then we headed for the pond.
As a child, the pond seemed a long way off. There was a slight rise to the land so you couldn't see the farmhouse. It was good to be alone with grandpa there. We fished with cane poles and cotton line and red and white bobbers on the line. Grandpa would get the poles ready and we would through out the line with the earthworm baited hooks and then set the ends of the poles in the muddy bank. The cows made impressions with their hooves as they walked along the bank and these were prime pole-perching areas.
Then we waited. We would lay on the bank of the little dam at the south end of the pond. Grandpa would chew on a piece of hay and I would watch the bobs intently for any movement. If it was a slow day, I would watch the cows and the dragonflies that perched on the weeds or hovered above the water. There were some bass in the pond and bottom feeding catfish. There were also turtles.
When the catfish hit on the hook, the bobber would dip a little making concentric rings that spread out from the center. Grandpa would make us wait until it hit hard, taking the bobber completely under then we jerked the pole tight and pulled as hard as we could. Many times this would fling the flopping catfish on the bank and I would laugh and jump with glee while he took the fish off the hook. Once we hooked a turtle. The bob just dipped a bit, moved slowly away from the bank and then slowly back. After about fifteen minutes of this, my grandpa knew it was a turtle. He hauled it out and took it to grandma to make her turtle soup.
When we fished together I didn't have to share him with any of the other cousins. It was time for "just us". Mine forever. I wish he were still with us. I wish we could go to that pond and sit quietly and fish together one more time. I wish life were as simple as it was then. I wish.