"Give me a fish and I eat for a day. Teach me to fish and I eat for a lifetime."
That's what Uncle Larry used to say, especially when he took us fishing. He wasn't really my uncle, he was Cathy's, and a bachelor uncle at that. Not knowing what a bachelor uncle was, since I only had regular uncles of my own, I didn't really know what Cathy meant when she said her "bachelor uncle." I just assumed it was an uncle who liked fishing. That's what Uncle Larry liked. Each summer he came up to stay with Cathy, and he took us both fishing. I don't know why it was that I was so lucky to go along, but I guess it was because we always did things together in those days, Cathy and I. So if she went fishing, so would I.
I remember the excitement when he came. I would run home to get my fishing pole from the attic where it had lain with its tangled line since last year's visit. Uncle Larry would patiently help us fix our lines and assemble some tackle. Then we would ask for the required permission to stay up late, so that when the stubborn summer twilight would finally give way to night, we could go looking for night crawlers. Then with our bait can full we would set out eagerly the next morning.
I don't remember catching very much. One time I did catch a fish, and a very unusual one at that, according to Uncle Larry. He would always mention it. I guess that's what kept me so interested in fishing. Probably it was the outing that we liked most of all. Cathy and I needed little excuse to spend the time roaming through the southern New England woodlands, exploring every brook and river. Uncle Larry knew all the places and so did we. We would arrive at our spot for the day, bait our hooks, cast in the lines, and then wait. That's what fishing seemed all about to me. After a while, Cathy and I would get restless and start exploring around, leaving Uncle Larry patiently watching the lines.
Our favorite place to go was the North River by Till Rock. There this tidal estuary, which meandered through the salt marsh on the way to the sea, touched solid ground where we could sit and fish. There was a hill there from the top of which one could command a fine view of the countryside. When one faced east with the pine woodlands at one's back, one could see the river flowing to the sea. The slopes were full of blueberry bushes, which in the summer were full of the most delicious berries. But best of all was Till Rock itself. It stood mysteriously at the very top of the hill, much taller than I was, looking ever toward the sea. Legend had it that under this rock was the hidden treasure of a notorious pirate. Fleeing from his pursuers, the pirate had come up the river to hide his treasure before he was captured and hanged in Boston. Needless to say we never found this treasure, although a visit never went by that we didn't search for it. When we were tired of this endeavor, there were always the blueberries - a more sure and available treasure.
I don't know how it happened one day. I guess we were getting older and we were bored with fishing and bored with our diversions. We sat on the bank watching the tide turn. It was just about full tide. The waters had surged with the tide in from the sea. Now the river was full and the waters swelled its banks, the current seemingly suspended. Soon the current would change directions, and the waters would be pulled back again to the sea. I think it was Cathy who finally voiced it, but I am sure it was what we were both thinking.