Friday, May 13, 2011

Fishing Lessons

My brother recently shared a picture he took in Luray:

It brought back the memory of the last time I'd seen one of these monstrosities.

I was... 6 years old-ish?  Young.  Still blonde.  It was one of the many weekends during one of many summers that I was spending time with my grandparents at their house on the river in Luray, one of my favorite places in the world.

Grandpa was going to teach me how to fish so he hooked up the little motor boat to the Koboda tractor (I called it my first car) and plopped me on the boat bench to be towed along to the neighborhood put-in.  The roar of the tractor always seemed completely deafening to me, less so now that I'm older, so when Grandpa stopped the tractor just before the boat launch and turned to talk to me sitting in the back of the boat he had to yell.  Unfortunately Grandpa yelling wasn't loud enough so I was forced to decode his gesturing.

What I gathered is that there was something off to our right in the strip of grass between the road and the tree buffer along the river bank.  I hopped out of the boat and inched closer to get a look.  It took me a minute or two and lots of looking back and forth for a visual game of Hot or Cold to try to find what he was seeing: a HUGE turtle staring right at me!

I looked back at Grandpa, grinning ear to ear and making the very obvious gesture that he wanted me to touch it.  Without a moments hesitation I faced that turtle, as big as my torso, square on and slowly reached OVER ITS HEAD to touch it's shell!  That day I discovered the value of finely tuned reflexes.

In slow motion I watched that turtle with his now obvious pointed beak-like mouth, shoot his neck out and aim right at me.  My index finger had made contact with his shell and the distance I had to pull it from there to the safety of a fist clutched tightly to my chest seemed miles long.  I made it out of his snap by centimeters and whipped my head around to see Grandpa doubled over the steering wheel in a fit of laughter.

Startled and a little bit shaky I walked back to the road and hopped up in the boat and Grandpa taught me how to fish for something ever so slightly less dangerous.

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