They don’t like to be damp. They are not fond of wind. Or cold. It was not their idea to take the Family Fishing Rod to Brighton Beach (past the empty mini-golf, over the silent kiddy railway) – it was my idea.
The wind whipped at our coats and although the rain was light it was intrusive. There was a lot of jumping up and down on the spot, hands covered by jumper sleeves, “…can – we – gooooo?”
We struggled to untangle the invisible line (“Don’t touch it while I’m UNTANGLING it… Go away!” “But, Daddy it’s MY fishing rod!”) and although the wind was unhelpful, eventually we had a line with a hook and a weight and a little float on it.
Then we got out the worms.
They were in a jar in one of the boys’ pockets… the worms were of no interest until the moment came when a worm was THREADED onto a HOOK. In fact, fishing was of no interest until that moment.
The first cast was a beauty – the slick of rod through the air, the slow arc ending in the dark circle of moment as the worm hit the water. Then we realised that it was only the worm that had hit the water. The rest of the line was still with us on the beach.
Another worm, this time threaded without mercy in several places onto the hook. A quick acquaintance with the way the reel’s locking system worked and a second attempt. Beautiful. Now the boys were hopping up and down in excitement… “My turn!” “My turn!” It seemed the unmoving sea was teeming with boy-sized fish just nosing about near the shore, trusting and curious about a worm squirming on a hook that might suddenly hit the sea floor in front of them. Nibble nibble. The float floated – every boy was SURE it would be snatched beneath the surface any second – come on! Come on fish! Jump jump jump – some explosions and kung fu kicks to let off the steam of anticipation. Quiet yelps and gun shots and whispered crowd roars as they waited for the fish to notice the worm. “Hey fish – here you are!”
It was dusk. The beach was empty but for some die-hards with a lot of Brobdingnagian fishing equipment and all-weather gear further down. On the horizon, fingers of sun made silver columns from the clouds into the sea. I got out my camera but only got this before it died:
…that’s because it’s a phone and I need a new camera that is a camera. So the portraits of happy children excitedly pulling at a fishing line whose end floats only a few feet away in a still, grey sea are lost.
But it was heaven. If heaven is cold – it was very.