May 29, 2010 9:14:00 PM
Shannon Bardwell - firstname.lastname@example.org
Slowing to a crawl I approached the one-lane bridge leading to Shaeffer''s Chapel. A man was fishing off the bridge, and a gangly young girl about the age of 10 was on the other side.
The girl looked up and, with a grin as wide as the bridge, ran frantically toward a fishing pole. She wore a baseball cap and cut-off jeans barely concealing knobby knees. Knees went in every direction; the smile remained, and her eyes sparkled. They literally sparkled. It was a school night, but she was fishing with her dad, and I wonder if she was learning more important lessons than a book could ever teach her.
Bridge fishing is commonplace in the Prairie; back roads to West Point furnish narrow bridges for a fisherman or two. The last time I passed by it was raining. Undeterred, a couple sat in a truck and watched eight poles propped over the railing. I do not know how they keep the poles from taking off with the fish, but they must. A careless driver could quickly wipe out their entire fishing operation.
Another day I passed by the Grahams'' camphouse. At the edge of the lake surrounded by yellow swamp irises was a man in a wheelchair. He was holding a fishing pole. At his knee was a small boy and behind him a younger man. I''m guessing three generations of fishermen. The scene was so heartwarming I wished for a camera, or to call Kelly Tippett, Dispatch photographer, but some moments are just that ... moments.
Last week the patriarch of the Pack family called and asked to picnic at the Prairie pond. It seems the young 3-year-old Drew Pack received a sticker every single day for exemplary behavior. As a reward he was offered an MSU baseball game, the carnival or fishing. Drew chose fishing.
The Pack''s brought a big spread of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, coleslaw and some plastic ants. The big boys caught the fish and let the young Drew reel them in and hold them. Drew has an affinity for holding fish. Since we catch and release in the Prairie pond, Drew threw the fish back in the water, and that''s when we heard the big "ka-plunk."b
Sam thought it a big bass, but a quick look revealed it was the young Drew. Being a little bitty guy, he had slung himself right off the dock and into the pond. His father standing nearby grabbed him by the collar and quickly lifted him back on the dock. No father, grandfather or friend could have been prouder as the little man, soaking wet, shook himself off and continued reeling and tossing fish.
Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.