Today the weather heated up to the high 70s. The rain-clouds cleared away. I determined to go fishing at the Park Hill Prairie, two small ponds located in a county park in the middle of nowhere in north Collin County, adjacent to one of the last remnants of true, undisturbed prairie.
I'm very conscious that my dog Teddy needs a bit more play and attention right now, as she has become our only dog in the house. She had never been fishing before with me, but I decided to bring her along. She loves to ride in the car.
I knew from experience that Ted needs frequent stops for walks when traveling. Thus, I took a back-highway route so that I could stop at Brockdale Park, near Lucas, twenty minutes into our trip. Teddy enjoyed taking a stroll and constitutional there.
This park adjoins Lake Lavon, which was so windy as to have little whitecaps.
I saw the brisk wind, and decided that kite season officially has begun. Collin County, where I live, is windier than Chicago, which means that kite season never truly ends. But from mid-February through mid-June, kite flying is particularly propitious. I keep in my trunk kite string and cheap kites. I had replenished my trunk with an old-fashioned one dollar cross-stick kite, which had a long tail made out of the same green material used in trash bags. The string was from a reel I got from a toy discount outlet, and was colored a bright red. The kite face featured really cheesy 1950s style alient spacecraft.
The kite left my hands, and immediately went aloft. I had intended to fly it over the lake. This intention, to have it wild and free over open water, was a good one, and it is probably too bad it went unfulfilled, because I soon tangled this high-flying kite in a high-flying tree. It was a bit like that part on television when the Arena Football League guys kick the ball into the net behind the goal-line, except that the football always bounces off into some guy's hand who takes off running, and my kite now festoons the tree. I retrieved my string, and Ted and I set off for Park Hill Prairie.
When we got to Farmersville, we stopped at the little white building whose business name I do not know, because I always think of it by its sign in front, which begins with the word "Minnows". I got hooks and sinkers and worms and a stick of beef jerky and pretzels, because I knew that with Ted along, I would not be eating very haute cuisine along the way. Ted enjoys a car-ride, and as we drove, she surveyed the surrounding countryside. We passed by the grove of pecan trees, and a sign said "FOR SALE: 9 acres, pecan trees and farm house. 275 dollars a month", and I had a longing to own a pecan oasis, but I kept on driving.
On the way out, I listened to ambient music by A.Produce, a CD with some name like
"Selected Cuts", which is curious to me, because A. Produce is a very well known cult ambient artist, but with ambient artists, all albums have such small circulation that they are all in effect "selected cuts".
I found Park Hill Prairie, although the sign off Highway 36 is gone. I must write the Collin County Parks and Open Spaces Board to advise them of its anonymity.
As we drove down the little County Road 1130, I tried to interest Ted in the little field of kid goats we passed, but Ted kept her own counsels.
When we arrived at Park Hill Prairie, we had the park to ourselves, other than three high school kids in the picnic area who flew a really hip looking eagle kite.
Teddy loved walking along with me to the fishing ponds, as it is a brief hike exactly to her taste. Sometimes she found things to "check out" along the way, and even demurred a time or two when I explained that our fishing awaited us. Presently, however, we made it to the ponds. The Park Hill Prairie ponds are two in number, and are surrounded by grasses and a few willow trees. They are lovely. Adjoining fields on very mildly rolling terrain features angus cows.
I had bought a cane pole at the "Minnows" place, and I baited it and began to fish.
The weather was quite warm, but far too windy. I fastened Ted's leash to my belt loop so that I could have my hands free. I started with the cane pole, but found that I needed to go deeper. Then I switched to my little Shakespeare rod and reel,
a cheap K-Martish thing I bought to a niece or nephew to use. Some folks buy expensive ultra-light tackle to make sunfish fishing exciting. I buy cheap discount store tackle for a similar experience of "bream-as-marlin" fishing.
I caught a keeper bluegill, followed by a small bass. After a while, my bobber dipped under. Up until the third fish, Ted had enjoyed lounging on the grass, and sipping from the ponds. She is not an Olympic marathon runner in the best of times, and values the exquisite experience of leisure. But I love the way that old dogs learn new tricks.
When the bobber went under on the third fish, Teddy was watching. She suddenly "got" that I had hooked a fish, and that I would be reeling one in. She became very excited, and joined in the frolic of hauling in the fish. Never let it be said that dogs and nautical matters are confined to ship-wandering schipperkes and duck-gathering retrievers. My Tibetan temple dog staked her convincing claim as Sunfish Companion Dog Extraordinaire. When the fish was hauled in, another keeper size bream, Teddy conceived that if she performed the trick in which she stands on her hind legs, called "hop up", then she might obtain a fish. Sadly, from her point of view, she only obtained a starring role in a photograph beside the fish, after which the fish was thrown back asea (or a-pond, to maintain the appropriate degree of angling precision).
I stood and fished, thinking about the things that happened this past week, as well as the daydreams and strategems that usually characterize my fishing trips. Ted did not detract from the solitude. She became a part of the fun.
We fished a while longer, until 3:45. Then we hiked back to the car. As we prepared to leave, I stopped to visit with the man who had brought his wife and four kids to the ponds while I fished. The kids were running around the ponds, without a pole. They all had on button up shirts, as if they came directly from some long religious service.
The man explained to me that he was fishing with artificial lures, little Rappalas.
I am a reasonably dab hand with the artificial lure called a beetlespin. It is an article of faith, by the way, that no problem in life cannot be solved with a Zebco 33 reel, a Rhino Tough rod, and a collection of beetle spins.
I have a zillion cane poles in my garage, so I donated my cane pole to the kids' cause. When last I looked, they were scouting for minnows. The man invoked a blessing from the deity upon me. The kids had buckets for their minnows. Ted and I moved on.
I listened to Joan Allen read a short story on public radio's "Selected Shorts", in which a midwestern woman decides not to leave her husband after she witnesses the aftermath of an automobile accident. Then I put in the CD of Him and the Drinks, which I had gotten from hypnos.com's store this week. The CD, "The Cooling Cake", is a wonderful mix of synthy cocktail jazz, Buddha-Head-era Bill Nelson, and a smarmier Penguin Cafe Orchestra. What a great discovery! The liner notes said they are from Austin, and have a website, www.himandthedrinks.com. The website reveals that they were one of those acts that featured a lot on mp3, back when mp3 was a pre-Lindows arena of fun. I will set aside convention and send them a note of appreciation.
I stopped by the Dairy Queen and ordered a huge Diet Coke and a DQ sandwich for me, and a small cup of water for Ted. She enjoyed licking her water from her DQ cup, although I could not tell, for want of canine linguistic skills, if Farmersville city water tasted as good as the clear pond water at the prairie. We drove the back way by Lake Lavon home.
We arrived home, and salmon or cod may be on tap. The sunfish are securely at home in their ponds.