Source: Sherman Publications

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Wild Ideas A column by Mary Keck
Canoe speed

by Mary Keck

August 22, 2012

This weekend I daydreamed in a canoe on Crooked Lake in Independence Oaks County Park.

I paddled in the front, and my husband steered in the back while our dog slept at the bottom of the canoe between us.

Herons swooped in to land on the water's edge and swans preened their feathers among the cattails as we floated along in the sunshine.

While we snacked on slices of the cucumber we picked from our garden that morning, we listened to the buzz of electric blue dragonflies and watched kayakers race in the distance.

Seeing so many fathers fishing from rowboats and pedal boats with their sons and daughters reminded me of my dad who gave me my first fishing pole. It's been many years since I've tried catching anything, but I'll never forget waiting patiently for my bobber to slip beneath the water's surface.

My first catch was a largemouth bass with greenish brown scales and a gaping mouth.

I was afraid to touch its wriggling body, so my dad helped me unhook it. When we finished celebrating, my dad held my fish in his open palm in the shallows.

We watched as its fins started waving slowly; then, as if waking up suddenly from a deep sleep, my fish shot away into the deep water.

We always practiced catch and release when I was lucky enough to hook anything as a kid, and I noticed it's Independence Oaks' policy, too.

For me, fishing wasn't necessarily about what you took home but about sitting along the shore, spotting turtle noses when they came up for a breath, and listening to my dad's tales of hooking fish with my grandpa's help.

As my husband, my dog, and I listened to lily pads brush against the side of our vessel, I remembered that like fishing with my dad, canoeing is about more than the exercise.

It is about sharing the peace of the water and the feel of the warm sun with the ones I love. Memories that might otherwise drift on by flow easily when the pace of your life slows to canoe speed.