On Friday night I went fishing. I haven’t been fishing in 16 or more years, I would guess.
Pat, the electrical contractor who is doing the new warehouse is about the most stereotypical seeming country bumpkin you could imagine. Born and raised in Bullet County Kentucky, he’s tall and strong, with a sun freckled complexion and crinkles around his eyes. He drives a work-worn Ford pickup truck, he speaks quickly with the strongest deep country twang you can imagine, and he wears overalls. He wears his overalls all the time. Pat’s a good guy; very proficient at his work, smart, and funny. He invited Charlotte and I to go fishing with him.
Before we got out to the lake, we stopped by his house. Now I love it when people blow away stereotypes, and Pat sure did. If you only got a quick glimpse of him on the job site, you’d think he might live in a trailer park. But this guy has one of the classiest, nicest place I’ve ever seen. It’s actually over the border in Indiana; “God’s Country” he calls it. You wind up these lush forest roads to a high point where you can look out and see the Louisville lights. There are rolling hills and trees and grassy plains dotted with gentle ponds and lakes. His house is in a little clearing on an acre of forested land. The exterior is dark brick with lovely masonry detail. It’s an average sized house, but it has the look of a mansion. There we met his wife Marsha, a nurse who, in contrast to Pat, keeps herself extremely well manicured. He introduces her as “his queen”.
He has a sparkling Harley Davidson cruiser in the garage, and a mid 90′s Mustang he needs to do some work on. Inside the house every nook and cranny was set up like a photo from Better Homes and Gardens. The high walls were painted in rich earthy tones, with bright crown molding taking them to the vaulted ceiling. Marsha is a master decorator. Candles, baskets of potpourri, and tasteful ornaments detailed the look, but nothing seemed cluttered. The house smelled lightly of sweet harvest. This fella knows how to live.
Anyways, we soon took off for a nearby lake where Pat has a hunting cabin and a little electric powered pontoon fishing boat. Off we went on the water with a basket of live crickets and a take out container of worms. Pat was good about setting the live bait… a process which made my stomach turn over each time I watched: you slide the hook right up the cricket’s ass (assuming crickets have asses), through the abdomen and out the thorax. The crickets did not seem to appreciate it at all. Charlotte had not fished before and until she figured out how to cast properly, I’d (literally) hit the deck each time the barbed hook came swinging through the air by my head. Within a moment she had caught a fish, though. The first one was quite large (the largest of the night) but in fitting with tradition, it got away before she could land it. She quickly caught another, though, a smallish one. Pat deftly de-hooked the fish and threw it back. It was just fishing “for fun”.
I surprised myself by being able to disconnect from the inherent horror of fishing: dragging the little creatures out from their world by a hook through the cheek, only to be tossed back in pointlessly. I even threaded one worm on a hook myself, and remembered how much I didn’t like doing that when I went fishing as a kid. Charlotte hooked a cricket herself with a grimace. But despite all that, with the quiet, beautiful natural surroundings, good company to chat with, and a cooler of decent beer, it was much fun. I caught four fish myself and handled two of them, though only Pat was skilled enough to get the hook out. We fished for a long time… perhaps from 6 to 11, though all the actual catching took place in the first couple hours. Only one fish died in the process, having swallowed the hook a little too deeply. Pat got it out with a little endoscopy-like maneuver, but the fish only swam for a moment after being thrown back in and wound up floating away. Charlotte and I felt a bit sad about that; such hypocrisy from a couple of avid sushi eaters!
Long after dark we three lay down on the dock, watched the stars, and joked around. We saw a few meteorites and flunked basic astronomy by being totally unable to find the Big Dipper or Orion’s Belt. We could make out a bit of the haze of the Milky Way itself, though. It got cold enough that we all grabbed extra parkas and fleece from Pat’s collection. Fog rolled in and covered the lake eventually, the insect population buzzed, and little fireflies dotted the trail back to the truck. We ended up leaving around 1AM. Climbing into my hotel bed back in Shepherdsville felt uncommonly comfortable.