Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Ice fishing

My parents got divorced when I was about 12. We were the classic 70s family. Mom and dad got married young, grew up becoming parents when they had me at about 18-19. As most know, you are a much different person at 18 than you are in your 20s and even 30s. I'm experiencing some of that right now through the divorces and marital problems of some of my friends who married young.

Some of my earliest and fondest memories of spending time with Pops surround being in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. Pops took over the reigns of our Cub Scout troop after the other parents nagged him to do it. He was hesitant, but he did and did it for years afterwards. He was a great pack leader and an even better Boy Scout leader.

We would go on camping trips all the time. Those were the good old days. Camping outside or camping in cabins with the fire raging. We would camp in the summer, spring, fall and winter. The winter trips were the best. Having fun out in the snow, sleeping in tents out in the snow, cooking on an open fire, etc. I loved every minute of it.

As you get older you forget some of the details (not in the case of one kid who burned his tongue on a skewer), but you remember generally what those days felt like and how much fun you had. As an adult, you appreciate how much those days mean to you - especially now that I'm almost four years in as a parent of two girls.

One of the best parts of camping in the winter at "Quinny" (the spot we used to go to in Rindge, NH), was ice fishing.

Pops would bring his ice-auger that we had to spin by hand. Sometimes the ice would be a foot thick if not two. It got very cold up there and Lake Quinny would freeze like cubes in an ice box.

Once we got the holes dug (probably about 4-5 of them, we'd set the bait, set the flag, then wait. For us, waiting meant playing football or pond hockey as we called it. For the most part, Quinny always had snow on top of the ice so it was hard to do any skating. So we mostly played football.

The coolest part of it all was that Pops and the adults would watch us play, sometimes even get into the action. Every once and a while, we'd hear an adult yell - FISH ON. We'd stop the game, look around at the holes to see which flag was raised...that meant FISH ON. We'd locate the flag then all of us would dash to the hole, sliding a few feet before the hole like a base runner diving into third. We didn't want to slush up the hole. Pops would usually take the line out and start reeling in. The other adults weren't into fishing as Pops was, so he always was the person to set everything up for us. If it was a fish that he could easily be reel, he'd hand it off to one of the kids. Mostly he'd hand it to someone else other than me because he knew that he, little bro and I would go fishing on our own at some point or we already did earlier that year. After a while however, we would be catching so many fish that the other kids would lose interest. Not me. I loved it.

It was a great for me to spend time like that with Pops and little bro. That's all it really took. I didn't need vacations, toys, etc. Ice fishing was perfect. Warm weather fishing was cool too, but ice fishing was the best (being a fan of cold weather).

This might seem like it's out of left field, but nope. I was reading the Globe this morning and apparently, ice fishing is back in the "style."

Go figure.


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