Thursday, November 20, 2014

Salutatio: Semper nova fines

The red tacklebox and Zebco rod and reel sat in a corner of the garage. The dry smell of concrete hung in the afternoon June air with notes of turpentine and plywood. The young boy balanced the box and reel on the handlebars of his pushbike as he pitched down the driveway and onto the roadway.
 From Sheffield to Cambridge to Hurffville, the quiet sun beat down upon the bitumen. Crossing Greentree he pedalled up the hill on the road to Lac des Cloches.
 On arrival, the lake lay shimmering like glass beads cast into a warm broth of olive and amber. Down to the small wooden dock where the line is set with bobber, sinker, and hooked with a morsel of wet bread crust.
  Cast! with a plunk, the surface ripples with ringlets, faintly throwing shadows along the bottom a half metre below. A bite! Pull in a Sunny here and there. (What does one do with these palm-sized fish once they’re caught?)
 The sun arcs westward; in time, in solitude, in silence, the young man patiently waits for another bite. Why? It — “something” — awaits beneath the surface to be discovered, familiar or strange.
  Along comes a Bluegill, slowly eyeballing the bait. Gently it glides towards the hook with mouth curiously agape. A steady stare and grip by the 9-year-old is too much to maintain. Anticipation overwhelming, a slight twitch of the rod sends the fish darting off, mere centimetres from the simple lure.
“Rats.”
Sunnies were always easy to catch; a bite from a Bluegill was a little tougher to snag.

He collected his kit and wandered up the hill to the community pool to swim, dive, and swim some more. Swimming with mates, swimming alone, the warm, dank smell of the lake breezing over the cool, astringent chlorine air of the pool.
 A summer day much like any other — no adults, save the pool’s languid teenage lifeguard, or the lunch Mum had made earlier, which may have involved cottage cheese.
A day free of nannies, busybodies, jobsworths and helicopters.

——

A September venture on foot, beyond Nottingham, past Weasel’s abode, up the steep wooded slope, passing abandoned forts, making way upward. The tailored greenery at the hill’s plateau indicated potential encroachment, and so the trek is thus expedited.
 Through the trees, the party tramped along with pinestraw crunching underfoot; corrugated plastic covering troughs evidenced prior expeditions.
The forest broke to reveal an eroded horseshoe-shaped canyon, barren soil awaiting some developer’s future neighbourhood dream.
“It’s a whole new civilisation,” beamed the 9-year-old, eyeing waste yet picturing the heretofore unseen landscape with potential and the optimist's spirit.

The sun hung high as the three lads scouted the ravine with marked enthusiasm.
 An autumn day much like any other — no adults, save the bellowing man on the greenery shaking his golf club.
A day free of nannies, busybodies, jobsworths and helicopters.

——

Is the spark of curiosity and exploration innate in a young man? Of course. It can be nurtured indirectly enough by Mum yelling, “Get out of the house!”
Something will always beckon from beneath the lake’s expanse, from behind the curtain of trees, from beyond the sky and firmament.
 In the cacophony of today that “something” may indeed be difficult to hear. But what happens when the boys themselves stop listening?