Children (my 2 youngest, 3 and 5) in the shadow of a gnarled ancient of a gum tree, with an electrical substation lurking behind.
Kind of a metaphor for our world, isn’t it?
As a bonus, the yellow vest is a Batman vest and the brown jacket is a print of Chewbacca’s torso. Geek life FTW.
Here’s our 5 year old proudly displaying the first fish he ever caught, just a couple of days ago. Itty-bitty little bluegill — and he went on to catch four more somewhat larger ones while I caught a decent sunfish, a crappie, and a smallmouth bass.
He was THRILLED to have caught more fish than I did. 🙂
When I was a kid we threw small panfish like that bluegill back. I have come to learn that panfish spawn eggs by the thousands, and in small lakes like the one we were fishing in they’ll generate a huge population quickly if someone isn’t eating them.
I’m sure the local bass, herons, and cranes eat way more than our little catch, but we took them home.
Small fish are good practice for my needs-work filleting skills. 5 year old Victor got an education in where food comes from: with my hands guiding his, he cleaned the very first fish he caught, and he ate it as a lightly breaded quick-fried fish nugget side dish.
If we eat meat, and all of us do but our 18 year old vegetarian, we should be aware of its origins, yes?
Also, with such tiny fish there need be little waste. The same light cornstarch & cornmeal dusting and a longer fry in slightly cooler oil, and you can eat the remaining bones and meat like crunchy fish potato crisps. But fishy and full of calcium. Chew carefully. Take small bites.
When I was a kid, we threw the little ones back, even though we often suffered food insecurity in the first 10 years of my life, when we lived in Wisconsin and our main income was my dad’s construction work — which tends to be seasonal, oddly enough, up north where it’s cold as hell in the winter. If we’d had more sense, or less pride, or thought of fishing as a way to get food instead of recreation, we’d have eaten them. Interesting, how our minds partition things based on our life experience. Dad was a city kid from Detroit, mom from a middle class background in a small town in Wisconsin. Fishing was something you did to have a good time, not to eat.
Well, times are tough and my family lives below the poverty line. I’ll be damned if I’m paying for a fishing licence and not turning a profit on it in seafood! (Side note: I’m trying to write our way above the poverty line — look above, there’s a tab marked “Support me on Patreon.” Look to the right, there are links to places to buy my ebooks. Even picking up a free one makes me a smidge more visible on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or wherever you get it from. I appreciate the hell our of anything you might do to make my dreams come true and my family’s bottom line healthier!)
And I hope you’ve had something wonderful in your life recently, something that compares with watching your kid catch his first fish.
I’m still smiling about it. 🙂
Here’s a little bit of microfiction for you to enjoy. As happens often in fiction, it’s based on a real place and a real experience. I’ll leave you to decide which parts are fiction and which are not.
Copyright 2015 S.A. Barton
The eighteen-wheelers roar by above; the bridge over the creek is shorter than they are long.
Below, in the creek, cool water parting for thin boy shins, sun beating his back darker, darker, the boy crouches, peering down.
His hands part the toy cataract above a stone wearing a sleek skirt of algae filaments.
Backwards, the greeny-brown crayfish flees into the shadow gathered under the stone.
Another eighteen-wheeler approaches; low diesel thunder.
Little fingers chase after the crayfish, darting through the dark under the stone. Above, thunder, thunder, thunder, closer.
The boy grunts, smiles, flips the stone, algae skirt flaring wild.
The crayfish squirts backwards all in a burst.
THUNDER the truck mounts the bridge.
Long, long, bony arms streak out of the dark under the little bridge, faster than crayfish and boys, stretching out of a lank green shadowed crouchy shape.
Overhead the truck thunder recedes and dissipates into the distance.
The shallow creek waters fill, then pass over smooth a lost shoe mired fast in the mud.
The crayfish climbs inside, taking refuge.
Available on Smashwords — FREE! No sign-in needed, you can even select “online reader” under “Download:” and read it as a webpage — just as you’re reading this page, with nothing to actually download!
This is a short tale of weirdness after a storm — I’ll let the opening paragraphs speak for themselves:
Eventually, the walls-strumming throb of the tornado passed and the family emerged from their storm nest in the hallway. They had ridden through the storm—the hail and rain hammering on the walls, the gusts rocking the trailer home side to side on its blocks, the thunder shaking the roof, and finally the open-throated steam engine chug of the funnel cloud itself—encapsulated in the mattresses rushed from their beds and stood up against the hallway walls to cushion them in case the trailer rolled over. But it hadn’t.
The storm had been black, choking off the little bit of light that illuminated the hall from the living room on a sunny day. After the hail the electric lights had failed. The lights were still out, but now a weak sun filtered in again, gray.
Paul rushed ahead of his parents and little brother on the energy of thirteen, threw open the door and the screen, and burst out onto the open porch. Twigs, leaves, and small branches torn out of the big maple between them and the next trailer thirty feet over crunched under his sneakers. From the maple, from the woods engulfing their end of the trailer park, branches and leaves covered the grass and the gravel road, a green and brown carpet with only a few worn patches showing what lay underneath. Paul looked up. The clouds trailing the storm were high and thin, ragged, sending down random momentary sprinkles. The air was fresh, washed, green with the sap of bruised leaves and broken trees. Paul sucked in a deep breath, alive in the wake of the storm’s fear.
“We made it!” he shouted as his family crowded onto the porch. He ran down the steps into the yard, and from there he saw it between the back of the trailer and the woods. A refrigerator, tall and white but not square like all the ones he’d seen before. This one was rounded and smooth like an enormous bar of soap. The handle on the front was short, chrome worn dull on one end and attached to the fridge only on the other. The fat and round black power cord disappeared into the undergrowth of the woods’ edge as if it were plugged into the ferns and sticky sundews that grew there…
He hopped planets at lightspeed, always afraid the children would catch up someday.
An additional, extra-story note:
This one, as presented, is an interesting study in how associated media affect the meaning of a story. The image of a child with a gun lends a sinister note. It would be quite a bit different — maybe better! — if the image was, say, a child holding a basket of flowers. Think of that image, a child holding a basket of flowers. What feelings does the story produce now?
Not to pick on any particular designer credited with designing humanity; you can point the finger at any of them, or at one lost to the mists of time, or at one yet to be imagined if you’d like.
But if you stipulate an intelligent designer who designed the human being, I would like to submit that I could design a better way to give a baby teeth than the present one. I could do it with my brains tied behind my back.
Having them pushed out slowly through the throbbing gums of a baby too young to know why he’s in pain so he can A) hurt and B) scream incessantly at his poor suffering parents was a jerkwad move. If you assume somedeity did it on purpose.
If you don’t… well, THANKS A WHOLE LOT, evolution. Couldn’t just give us beaks, could you?
- Evolution isn’t a religion, no matter how much you want it to be (collegian.com)
- A less important question – Intelligent Design (irrelevantaxiom.wordpress.com)