My nephew, Scott, and his wife, Amber, live close to our cottage on the St. Lawrence River. Both are great people. And as one would expect, their children are as sweet and as respectful as their mom and dad. (Probably country-living - without the influence of the Eddie Haskell’s of the world living next door - is a major reason. But I digress. And don’t e-mail me with “Who the hell is Eddie Haskell?”. And I apologize to Scott for calling him … “sweet.”)
Hailee, almost a teenager, is older than her brother, Trent. They live just off the main highway. And we – as well as many of our neighbors/family – drive by their house on the way down to our cottage.
Using an uncanny instinct which hovers three clicks above the most sophisticated radar equipment on the planet, they (the kids) are the gate-keepers, as such, and keep track of those who pass by on their way to the river.
Hailee is the queen of the river and captain/organizer of all activity. If someone is going out in a kayak – such as my wife, Kathie – she’s right there to join her (great) aunt for a sunset cruise. She’s an absolute delight.
And then there’s 8-year old Trent. He saunters from cottage to cottage in his rubber-boots checking to see if anyone needs help with their chores. He’s different from the ordinary male – regardless of his age – inasmuch as he’s always eager to take on work. (Note: I suggest his parents look into this abnormal behavior lest he grows up and sets the bar a little too high for the average guy with “honey-do” lists.)
More about Trent, but first: there’s a saying that implies the only time a fisherman tells the truth is when he admits he’s a liar. But this story ... is true.
I was cleaning (filleting) fish at the end of the dock one day when Trent – who always speaks in questions – asked “Can I go fishing with you tomorrow, Uncle Tom?”
“Absolutely,” I told him, “see you in the morning.”
When I got up early the next day … real early … not to rise and shine, but to take one of four routine trips to the can, there was Trent standing on our deck … waiting.
“Ready to go?” he asked.
I responded with all the intelligence I could muster. “Huh?”
“Is it too late to go fishing, Uncle Tom?”
“Huh? Do I know you?”
A pot of coffee later - and after 2 or 3 hundred questions from Trent – we grabbed my dog, Maggie and loaded up the boat to head out. As I handed Trent the poles, he looked at the line on one of them and said “Purple line?”
“Yes, is that a problem?”
“What are you, a girl?”
I had nothing for that. We got to the middle of the river and fished for awhile and then I asked him if he wanted a cookie.
“Don’t you know they’re not good for you?” he asked.
I couldn’t believe my ears. An 8-year old kid who didn’t want a cookie because they weren’t healthy.
“Who are you?” I asked laughingly. “Well, I hope you don’t mind if I have a couple.”
He looked at me with all the seriousness of a schoolmarm and said “What’s the matter with you, woman?”
Woman!? I have the feeling he heard that before … from someone ... (Nice! Scott.) Again, I had no comeback.
Ten minutes later, Trent hooked and reeled in a nice fish. Both Maggie and I were excited for him. Grinning like a Cheshire cat, he asked me what to do next. I told him to hang onto his mouth because his tail was slippery.
With complete bewilderment, he looked at me and said, “Why’s Maggie’s tail slippery?”
Seriously .. that’s the way it looks from the Valley.