Firefly therapy for an aging fisherman

Jun. 10, 2013 @ 05:55 PM

It is late in the day, the wind is still, the grass is green and there are seven lazy clouds in the sky.
There are mosquitoes and flies that bite, bugs that crawl and frogs, too.
He is a man of an age that is not important from a time that was very important, and there but a few things important to him now — family, his grandkids, reading by the light of the same lamp he read from as a boy. And of course, fishing is important, too.
He smells like a man should smell after sitting beneath the sun, dipping his hands in a cup of bait and having removed a few fish. He makes sounds an old man might make, too — grunts, whispers, huffs. He clears his throat, yawns, whistles and exhales quite dramatically.
He knows this place, and his feet have traveled this path before.
The fish is toying with the brass hook with the red worm that has soaked for half an hour. His eyes squint and his face draws, and he wants nothing more than to hook this five-ounce sunfish.
The cork disappears. He snaps the rod-tip up, and the fish is missed and still he says something that an old man might say.
This path has been traversed for decades. He was a follower, then a loaner, then a leader, then a father and mentor. Now he is exhaling loudly and grunting when all is quiet, and he stares at five-ounce sunfish in an appropriately intimidating manner.
There is a seriousness about his ways. His face is sculpted, wrinkled and burned by the sun, and his green eyes are intimidatingly narrow.
Still, he remembers when he used to play here, too. The tree was not as tall or big, and its leaves did not shade as it does now. The meadow of green grass is soft and pleasant, and he alternates his eyes from the field to the still waters and remembers when he once was not so serious.
He exhales loudly again. The fish has returned.
A dragonfly hovers 3 inches above the cork, and the ripples on the water spread as the fish nibbles on a fresher red worm. It is later in the day, and the fish is stubborn. The man is all the more determined and wants to catch this fish at this moment.
He is focused and serious, and though his reflexes are not as fast as they once were, he attempts to lift but misses and soon the tangle of line is beneath his feet.
He huffs and growls. With his fishing pole by his side, he folds his arms and watches shadows grow longer and bolder.
It used to be that he fished with a smile and a silent exhale. It used to be that his body did not smell, his reflexes were quick and his green eyes were not so narrow. It used to be that he found pleasure in the dance between a five-ounce sunfish and its challenge to nibble a worm while avoiding a hook.
It used to be this way.
The shadows are bolder and the tree is darker. He is walking as an old man does, and the firefly is close to his face. There are a dozen more ahead, then 100 and soon hundreds  as they emit enough light to briefly pause this old man.
There was a time he smiled while he fished. There also was a time he chased fireflies in the night. The sound of the tackle dropping to the ground was followed by the sound of him moving quickly and the unmistakable sound of laughter.
He is chasing fireflies. He has one in the hand and another nearly caught, and the Mason jar he was toting is emptied of the worms and now holds two fireflies. A third and soon six more fireflies follow, and he cannot see his tackle in the dark.
Instead, he sees the glow from this jar and he feels the softness of a smile on his face as he grins while walking away from this place.
The next day, the man is by the water, watching the cork being teased by the fish.
He grins. The fish is slower or his reflexes found sharpness, and a moment later the sunfish is in the palm of his hand. He smiles and winks with his left eye, then he releases the fish gently into the water.
When the shadows have grown longer, the old man takes the jar of fireflies from the shade of the chair and releases them. He watches the fireflies without chasing them. He baits the hook without frowning.
And even though he is an old man, he finds the peace to exhale without a sound.
Enjoy your time outdoors.

You may contact Jason Hawkins at hawkinsoutdoors@msn.com.