Thursday, January 10, 2008

Holy Mackerel!

No one uses that expression anymore. I wouldn't even recognize a mackerel. These could be smelt or trout or grouper..dunno.
I love to go to Whole Foods where the fish people stand high like pharmacists to serve you or to Fox & Obel, and shoot the fish on ice. They are laid out in schools or facing odd directions with blue eyes or black, expressions frozen in their last conversations or as if they were saying 'pick ME' . I must appear to look like a city inspector or just a little bit fishy with my camera out, snapping shots but they fascinate me. We have a large fish sculpture that spins on the front lawn, and one that holds a hanging basket of vines in the summer, and ceramic fish throughout the house. We eat a lot of fish. We have a friend who caught salmon and halibut in Alaska and brought us some. The exhange took place in the parking lot of the Schaumburg Flyers after a Bob Dylan concert and I was terrified to eat fish that had travelled in a cooler and made what I thought was a pretty good argument about our impending death if we actually ate those fish. They were the best fish we'd ever had and I keep hoping he'll go back and bring us more. My father and I spent the happiest hours of my childhood fishing at Montrose Harbor where we sat silently with bamboo poles and bobbers. He explained that fish can hear under water (although I cannot). I learned to catch minnows in a bucket before I understood Kindergarten protocol, and could bait a hook with squirmy bits of night crawlers and string our catch and keep them alive hanging in the lake. We'd sit under a shady tree, having fellow fishermen watching our equipment and eat bologna sandwiches and he'd teach me about dappled greens of leaves and how if you squint just right the sun coming through the trees would make slivers of rainbows. We'd be taking an after school drive and he'd see some random pond and we'd pull over and use garlic dressing soaked white bread made into balls for bait and catch catfish. I'd tell you the story of what we did with those catfish but I'm checking still on the Statute of Limitations for a little 7 year old accomplice. The memories of those peaceful times with my Dad are the reason I love to be outdoors and still remember everything he pointed out to me. It's why I bought a fishing pole on Maxwell Street last May. He's been gone now for longer than I knew him but what he taught me about nature and being silent and listening and observing, serve me still, and well.
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