Sunday, November 15, 2015

Fishing (For Words)

There’s a lake about two miles away from our house, and, after sitting at my desk all day, I felt the need to stretch my legs and decided to walk to the lake to enjoy the view and clear my mind.

So, I put a notebook and a few pens into a shoulder bag and went for a ramble, as they say in the UK.

At the lake a small wooden dock, maybe 20’ x 15’, with two benches and a waist-high railing, overlooks the water.

I had in mind to sit a while on one of the wooden benches, just letting the serenity of the place—the peacefulness of the water, the quietude of the woods—seep into me.

I’d open my notebook and wait for thoughts to arise that I might jot down.

The dock was empty when I arrived, and the water in front of me looked more like a sheet of glass smudged by dark charcoal than a mirror reflecting a bright blue sky until the sun emerged, spreading light across the water on the far side of the lake.

It was just after five o’clock. The park was empty except for a few dog walkers.

I sat on one of the benches, opened my shoulder bag, removed my notebook, and grabbed a pen.

Gazing out over the lake, I sat and watched the sunlight fall on the still water and waited for words.

A few minutes later, with no words to be found, I stood and went to the railing to gaze at the water in the hope I might find inspiration there.

Sometimes, at the edge of the dock, I’ve seen baby turtles poke their heads up to feed on weeds and fish leaping out of the water to capture flies.

Behind me I heard someone’s footsteps. A young girl’s red sneakers clomped on the wooden dock and echoed like drumbeats over the water.

Following her onto the dock was an older woman, not the girl’s mother but a neighbor, I learned, who was being pulled toward the railing by a small dog, a white and brown Shih Tzu.

The dog veered over to greet me, and I bent over to pet her.

“Coco’s friendly,” said the woman. “Don’t worry. She won’t bite.”

Coco was, indeed, friendly, and she welcomed my greeting when I leaned over to scratch the back of her neck. She even pressed her head against my ankle and happily wagged her tail.

The woman had let the leash run out and was standing a dozen feet or so away from where I was standing at the rail.

“What are you doing?” she asked. “Fishing?”

I held up my pen so she could see what I was holding--a gel pen, not a fishing rod.

“Oh, writing!” she said. “A poem?”

“Whatever thoughts happen to come,” I said.

“A journal?”


Coco pulled at the leash.

The sun was setting behind the clouds again.

The little girl clomped back across the dock toward the park, and the woman and Coco followed after her.

Once they left, the dock became quiet again, and a sense of peace (and possibility) rose off the water's surface.

I thought about the woman’s question.

I could have responded, “Yes.”

I could have replied, “I am fishing.”

But the idea came to me only after she left.

"Yes, I am fishing. Fishing for words.”

It's what a writer does.

I lowered my head, grateful for the reminder, and, as the words came, started writing this note.

No comments: