Reflections from the Swamp
Some of you, dear readers, may wonder why I have a story about two unrelated characters, the lobster and Ol’ Sluffer. What they have in common is that they both live forever. Living forever is something we might all have in common. Let’s find out.
For those who don’t travel to warm places in the winter, consider ice fishing. You’ll need warm clothes, a fishing line, and a vivid imagination for the stories you bring home. Wait til after Christmas unless you believe in total immersion baptisms. Wait until you can drive a truck on the ice. You may have to drum up some enthusiasm from your bride, who would rather be on a beach in the Caribbean, yet it’s worth a try. I usually go with a friend. Winter is a great time of year; we’re so blessed to have so much of it. I keep telling myself this, maybe it’s true.
Where else on the planet can you haul out on a frozen lake with a friend and a sled packed with ice fishing gear and sit around a hole in the ice, freezing to death while drinking beer and telling lies about “The big one who got away”? Try doing this in Cuba! I think the communists banned ice fishing in Cuba, along with making snowmen, snow angels, and outdoor rinks. That’s why so many of them try to escape.
I’ve been ice fishing for about ten years now with my friend John. We’ve never caught a fish. We always bring a bag of ice home to prove that we went ice fishing.
While shopping at Sobey’s, I always watch the lobsters, prisoners crawling around in the bottom of the tank with their hands tied with elastic bands dreaming of an escape. It makes me feel like the time I saw a bear in a small cage at a gas station on the way to Tweed years ago. The lobsters look as though they need a friend to help them out.
I dream about buying a lobster at Sobey’s, putting it in a bucket of water and driving nonstop to Nova Scotia to let him go. I’d get a rowboat, go out onto the ocean and release the lobster into the waves.
Before letting him go, I’d look him straight in the eyes and tell him I’ll be back. When I returned to the ocean, the lobster would come up on the beach, and we’d talk. I speak lobsterese and French, although lobsters don’t understand my French ( nor does anyone else).
Each year he’d be bigger and stronger than the year before. I’ve heard that lobsters never die. Each time they grow a new shell, their bodies rejuvenate.
Maybe I could live forever, too, when I shed my shell.
My father grew up in a world where the line between truth and fantasy was elastic, a true fisherman. As he grew older, the line tightened, a string on a bow, still flexible but capable of flinging arrows off in every direction.
We’re off to Lake McGregor to fish for Ol’ Sluffer, announced my Dad to his eager sons. “But we went fishing for Ol’ Sluffer in Gull Lake last time and in the river before that. How can he be in all of these places?” inquired the older lad of the lot.
The father looked at the ceiling and replied, “You know that all roads are connected and so are bodies of water. Ol’ Sluffer moves around a lot. He may go downriver and then come up another stream that goes right to Lake McGregor. Most fishermen don’t know where he is going, but I do.
My father reflected,” I have these dreams and sometimes see ‘Ol’ Sluffer’ in these dreams. I look around in my visions to see if I recognize the place. When I know where he is, then we go fishing.”
We fished everywhere for Ol’ Sluffer. Eventually, my kids did too. We caught him once in the Carp River. In this incarnation, he was a pike with about four lures hanging off his mouth. We removed the lures and let him go. Nobody is allowed to keep Ol’ Sluffer.
I’ve gone fishing on the pond with my granddaughters to catch Ol’ Sluffer. We’ve seen him or something moving in the still dark waters. Ol’ Sluffer will live forever, just like my friend the lobster.
Ol’ Sluffer belongs to us all. Maybe you’ve seen him too? The next time you go fishing with a kid, tell the child about Ol’ Sluffer. Be sure to let the fish go. Generations to come should be allowed to catch Ol’ Sluffer.
Many things are lurking in the deep waters of my dreams. Ol’ Sluffer swims up to the surface of my dreams and whispers that he’s below the rapids in Pakenham. I’m not sure what species he is this time. Maybe you will catch him this time and keep him and the story alive.