Fast Forward: Boys Become Men

Babes In Boyland, a Mad In Pursuit Diary


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Fish blurs, but smile dazzlesIt's been a long time since Maria and I have been "Babes in Boyland." But the designation took on a different meaning this weekend during our stay in the Adirondacks. We were less concerned with the fishing secrets of grown boys than we were with the enchantment of little boys.

Maria's son Matthew is already an accomplished fisher, with his own tacklebox and pole. But at 9, he still needs mom's supervision with hooks, snarled lines (Maria is a snarled- line expert) and the right way to kiss a fish before releasing. Matthew's playmate Jed was only marginally interested in actually fishing, but Sheila's two little guys were brimming with first-time excitement.

There weren't enough rods to go around, so the youngest boy Marcus got the novel idea of tying a line to a stick. The waters around the dock were not teeming with fish but had enough little perch and bass to make it exciting. When Matthew helped Marcus land a perch with the twig pole, a new fisherman was born.

Marcus got the hang of it fast. His brother Paris then got the fever.

The fish wouldn't bite during the warm part of the day, so aside from nursing hangovers, Friday was filled with flutter about escaped prisoners from the nearby federal pen. The police were worried enough to have roadblocks set up. How worried should we be -- were we too isolated or just isolated enough for a wicked sort of "Cape Fear" situation?

By the time dusk rolled around the worry had run its course and we all went down to the dock to fish. Paris talked Matthew into letting him use his pole and a fancy lure (the worms all having been baked to paste in the sun). Paris stood stalwart on the end of the dock trying to coax a fish bite out of the little bottom snags he was sensing.

We goofed around for an hour or so. The teenagers and Jim joined the group, but Maria and I were clearly the fishing authorities. A squall blew in and began to drench us. Everyone was running for cover, but Paris stood fast.

Suddenly he started screaming for Maria. "I got a fish! A fish!"

I ran for him. We pulled in the darling perch. "I have to show it to my mom!" I held his gear all together while we ran in the downpour back to the house. Cameras flashed.

The poor fish was clearly dead, the treble hook firmly jammed in his mouth, but it seemed important to finish the triumph by releasing the perch back into the lake. I cut the hooks off Matthew's fancy lure and sent Paris racing back to the lake.

The breadth of Paris' smile was matched only by the depth Matthew's despair at the fate of his lure. I let him choose one of my many unused lures as a "reward for his generosity toward Paris." This allowed Paris to enjoy his evening of accomplishment without having to endure a long face on Matthew.

Even the next morning, as we were packing the car, Paris and I were discussing his wondrous insight into the difference in feel between a snag and a bite.

And so, the Babes in Boyland end another adventure. 



Saranac Lake NY in the Adirondack Mountains