Publisher's Note: This was written before the current
I awoke yesterday before dawn. My wife was
sleeping peacefully and comfortably, wadded in
her favorite blanket. The dogs barely raised
their heads, yawned and looked rather puzzled
as I slipped out the bedroom's sliding glass door.
I keep my fly rod on the screened-in patio, or
lanai, as the builder called it. Too classy of a
description, if you ask me. The back porch is all
we ever called it where I grew up.
I slipped on my wading shorts, put on my shallow-water
booties, eased my rod from behind the folding chair
and slowly and quietly opened the door to the outside.
I listened for a brief moment to check for any movement
from within the house. All was silent; that was good.
I began my short stroll to the lake behind the house.
The sun wasn't yet poking its crown above the tree-line
far on the other side of the lake. I stood there for a
few minutes enjoying a mockingbird's song as he welcomed
another new dawn. I strained my eyes to see if the ducks
had arrived to meet me. They were nowhere to be seen.
I wondered where they were. The morning was already warm,
and a light fog had formed just above the surface of the
lake. I really didn't want to move. My hand was on the
wooden gate. I could smell the musty scent of the
decreasing shoreline. We hadn't had any rain in weeks.
"Boy, we could use some rain, and lots of it." I'm not
sure if I had said that out loud or not, and felt silly
that I was probably talking to myself.
The painting that lay before me was mostly all muted
tones of grays and charcoal. I stood there for minutes;
maybe a lifetime, as the slight clouds began to turn a
rosy, gray-gold; that color just before the blossom of
the day, that color that many folks never get to witness.
From the other shore, I thought I could see something
that wasn't familiar to me. It appeared to be an old
dock, kind of hidden in the elderberry bushes. How
could I have ever missed something as obvious as a
wooden structure? The front of the dock shoved just
into view but not projecting way out. I could have
overlooked it, maybe.
I waded quietly down the shore to get a closer look
at this new discovery, stopping in the water to calm
the wake I was making, and straining my eyes to see
through the obscuring mist rising from the warm water.
I thought I could hear the faint sound of an old
sixties song playing on a radio coming from the
direction from the old, graying dock. I began to
hum the tune. I could hear it. "Sittin' in the mornin'
sun...I'll be sittin' when the evenin' comes..." I
could just make it out, but I could see no one. The
elderberry bushes blocked all of the structure except
for a corner. I crept closer, becoming quieter as I
approached. It was so early. I rubbed my eyes and
tried to get a glimpse. I decided to walk up the
bank. Maybe I could see where the music was coming
from. I stalked toward the sound, looking to the
ground so as not to break a twig and scare anyone
that may happen to be there.
The sun was showing its upper half by now and the
fog had begun to burn off. But everything was still
and silent, except for Otis' singing.
A yellow-haired boy came into view, sitting cross-legged
on the brush-blocked side of the dock. A small, orange
transistor radio sat beside him and the familiar tune
came from it. He was slight; maybe eight or ten years
old. In front of him, a shellacked, cane pole projected
out from the dock and the pole was tucked under his right
thigh. He sat motionless. His concentration was on an
old, cork bobber that sat still on the surface of the
lake; the likes of which I hadn't seen in a long time.
The same type of bobber I had used when I was his age.
He seemed to be aware of my presence, but never
looked in my direction. He could not have heard me.
I stood there motionless as the new-day sun
silhouetted him and the morning's golden light
filtered through his yellow hair. He seemed so
young to be out here by himself so early on a
Saturday morning. Where did he live? No house
was visibly connected to the property. Nothing
looked familiar to me. But, I had never visited
this side of the lake, even though I lived directly
across the lake, and it wasn't that far away.
Silence was broken. "Good mornin', Gary." This
kid knew my name, but how? He still stared at
the cork, never looking away from it, waiting
on a bream to pull it under.
He spoke again, seeming to be much older than
he appeared. "Ain't you gonna speak?" I could
only stand there and stare at the back of this
boy in silence; trying to seek out in my mind
why he looked so familiar. Damn, I know this
kid, I thought to myself. Where have I seen him...
what was his name...so blasted familiar.
He turned slowly toward me, still not looking
directly at me, almost to acknowledge my presence,
but never taking his eyes off that old, brown cork.
"You're lookin' well", he said, still watching
the cork. His words almost startled me. "Ain't
you gonna fish?" I still hadn't said a word.
I don't think I was supposed to. Tears began
to well in my eyes as I watched him watch the
cork. I looked down at my graphite rod. I wiped
a mist from my eyes so that I could look from
where I had come, but I wasn't able to take a
step in that direction. "I have an extra pole
and lots of worms," he said. The only direction
in which I could walk was in the direction of
the yellow-haired kid.
I knelt down next to the boy, crossed my legs,
and began to whisper the words to the song on
the radio. I dug through the cardboard carton
of red wigglers, baited up my hook that was
beneath an old, brown, cork bobber. I tucked
the shellacked, cane pole underneath my right
thigh and took my first look directly into the
eyes of the child. "It's been a long time,
hasn't it?" As he looked up at me and smiled.
I replied, "It sure has."
A splash of a bass along the far shore interrupts
the beautiful silence that has fallen between us.
The dock, the elderberries and the cane pole have
vanished. My right hand is tightly gripping my
graphite rod. I look down into the shallow, still
surface of the lake. The reflection of a bearded,
grown man is smiling back at me. "It's been a long
time, indeed." ~ Capt. Gary
Gary grew up in central Florida and spent much
of his youth fishing the lakes that dot the area.
After moving a little closer to the coast, his
interests changed from fresh to salt. Gary still
visits his "roots" in the "lake behind the house."
He obtained his captain's license in the early '90's
and fished the blue waters of the Atlantic for a little
over twelve years. His interests in the beautiful shallow
water flats in and around the famous Mosquito Lagoon came
around twenty-five years ago. Even though Captain Gary
doesn't professionally guide anymore, his respect of the
waters will ever be present.
Gary began fly fishing and tying mostly saltwater
patterns in the early '90's and has participated as
a demo fly tier for the Federation of Fly Fishers
on numerous occasions. He is a private fly casting
and tying instructor and stained glass artist,
creating mostly saltwater game fish in glass.