Sunday, 24 August 2014

Rocks and a River for Kids

     “Do you want to go fishing at the park?” was the question from my son last night. 
    “Sure, we will meet you there!” This was my first chance to fish with my grandsons, aged 2 and 3.      Should be interesting was all I could think. The fish will have to be quick if they want to grab one of their hooks. The boys have not been known to sit still for very long and their attention span is quite fleeting. I will have to have the shutter speed set very fast if I want to get a photo of them sitting.
     There were scores of gulls strutting around the grassy knolls at the park. To get the boys interested, I told them how to catch a bird (as was explained to me when I was their age by my grandfather): “Put sugar on their tail and you will catch one!” Today, I have no sugar so I substitute sand. 
     With a bit of sand in each of their little hands, I set them off to the capture of a sea gull. “Go quietly and slowly,” I caution them, to little avail.
Grandpa said you can catch a bird if you put sand on his tail
This activity entertains them for almost one full minute while their Dad gets the $8.00 rods hooked with pink marshmallows and red-and-white bobbers. We dare not tell the boys they were using marshmallows as the pink bait would soon be smeared all over their lips and tongue, probably with hook embedded. It wasn’t long until the bobbers were floating in the pond with a boy at the controlling end. 
     “No fleet fish yet?”  Within 30 seconds the rods are lying on the ground and the boys are chasing and dodging goose patties. Once in a while they are reminded that they were fishing and with a bit of encouragement from Grandma they sit down with their rods.
Are the fish in the water Gramma?
 An Osprey flies overhead but quickly moves on to the next pond knowing he is out competed. Geese paddle by in hopes of a free meal and show but also quickly swim off.
     Distractions are numerous for little fishing boys: hills to climb, ducks swimming, gulls to catch, dogs running, strangers to be introduced to, bugs to observe, distant train whistles, ambulance sirens, flowers to pick, running, summersaults to perform, Grandmas to query, Dads to worry and frustrate Grandpa trying to snap a photo. It is tiring.
     The river is nearby so we wind up the hooks and head down the path toward more adventure. There are nearly ripe, high-bush cranberries and chokecherries to sample along the way. Spitting seeds and sour mush from screwed-up faces entertains grandpa for a minute or two, as dubious-and- protective grandma and father watched this age old game. These free food samples have all been demonstrated to them too, over the years. 
     There is a steep trail down to the river’s edge which all manage to negotiate intact.
Big Splash Grandpa
The rocky beach is soon totally transferred to the river depths. Rocks are tossed, skipped and splashed into the river. Big rocks, tiny rocks and flat rocks are each designed for various techniques of throwing. Not every flat rock is just for skipping; it could be used for distance throwing, gliding out in curved arc to splash down far beyond where an ordinary round rock might land. The boys are learning that rocks have to be the correct shape and heft to fit the curve of throwing finger properly. Perfect rocks should be preserved and treasured when found and I am sure the boys will get to appreciate them as they mature into rock-throwing aficionados, years from now. It helps to have a mentor or professor of GGMTA (granular geological missile trajectory arts). It also helps immensely to have competition from professional rock tossers as well as boys of equal and lesser abilities. With competitors, it will not be long until technique improves so their rock distances will naturally increase.
     Boys are sure that girls don’t count, as they can’t throw rocks, or so they think. 
     My son will soon be a professor to his boys, as he can toss a good rock almost half-way across the river. Both boys are suitably impressed as I was able to convince them that my rock went all the way across as there was no splash. I can still feel the ache in my shoulder and elbow.  The rock I used for this one-time demonstration was quickly deposited into my pocket as they intently watched for splash-down.
Look Grandpa
     There were certainly a couple of distractions on the river beach. Understandingly, the youngest came over with a giant earthworm to show me, and the eldest boy spent a fair bit of time
climbing the steep sandbank while grasping for willow roots and branches as assistance and for stability. These are hardly distractions but demonstrate a natural affinity to nature and life skills required for future survival. 
     The boys  are both muddy, only partially wet, mosquito bitten, and I am satisfied that their real life education has finally begun. They are both very interested in the subject matter so the future looks promising for all of us. 
     I look forward to the day they catch a fish, somehow! They are not yet ready, nor am I, for the confines of a small boat.

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