Although I love Chicago as if I were born here, I was not. I
came into the world under the auspicious gaze of the statue of
Vulcan, at the foot of Iron Mountain, in Birmingham, Alabama.
I occasionally leave my children in that great state under the
gentle care of their grandparents, my mother, MiMi, and their
grandfather, the incomparable Paw Paw Lamar. Lamar has left Alabama
voluntarily only once in my lifetime. He came to Chicago.
Leaving my children with him in Alabama has opened their lives
to the simpler joys, those human efforts closer to the red dirt of
my birth. Fishing.
It requires patience to understand, patience to perform. I fish
fast. The moment my bait hits the water I'm ticking off the seconds
until I get a strike. I cast and retrieve with such restless fury
my lure leaves a wake. I haven't caught anything in 20 years. I've
assumed it's genetic. I was wrong.
Fishing with Lamar, Sarah started off exhibiting the same
ruthless inability to angle I've enjoyed my entire life, casting
into the middle of the pond as the remainder of her line spooled
into a complex and intricate wig, ensnaring the reel and her hands,
causing her to whine with alarm.
This is where Lamar excels. Any man who watches every lap of a
NASCAR race knows a little something about patience. Carefully,
slowly, gently, Lamar began untangling the monofilament snarl, when
the rod was snatched out of his hands. He and Sarah looked up to
see a goose had grabbed the lure and was now waddling away,
dragging the rig behind.
The goose tried to take off, but the hopelessly entangled rod
and reel was an albatross around its neck. It waddled randomly,
honking in contrapuntal time with Sarah, who reacted exactly as I
would have, hopping around the edge of the pond, screaming OH MY
GOD OH MY GOD I CAUGHT A BIRD!
Lamar reacted with the trained impulses of a former Marine,
wrestled the goose to the ground and, patiently, removed the lure
with as little damage as he could manage. The goose flapped away,
landing in the next pond over in a group of geese where,
presumably, he honked, "You will NOT believe what just happened
Christopher lives in Chicago with his wife and kids and can also be found at deathbychildren.com.
See more of Christopher's stories here.
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