Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Frogs and Fish

It's that time of year. We started frog dissections today. These kids did a thousand times better than last year's group. No gagging, puking, shrieking or acting dumb. They had fun but got down to business pretty quickly.

This might be my favorite thing I've heard or seen all year. Everybody knows how important the outdoors is to us Yoopers and how important trout fishing is to this Yooper family, specifically. It's like a rite of passage - going trout fishing for the first time, getting your first pole, your first pair of waders. Learning where to put the pop so it stays cold, learning what to wear so you don't scare away the fish, how to hold your line, recognizing the pull at the other end that indicates you have a bite...
My mom knows more about fishing than just about anyone but it is my dad who taught me about trout fishing. Our dads pass on their secrets and show us where the hidden fishing spots are. They are the ones who patiently wait while we untangle our line for the 50th time or snag a tree or fall in the clump grass or step in a hole and swamp our waders. So when I saw these pictures of my cousin Jake taking little Axel fishing for the first time I was so proud of him. Trout fishing was a huge part of Joey's life; it was something he shared with his dad and with Jake; with his uncles and cousins. He was starting to teach Jeb the ropes as well. The big ol' extended family would go out for the day and then gather in the evening to share their catch and tell their fish stories. I know it has been heavy on Jake's heart that his brother isn't here to teach these things to his son. I know he wants to make sure Axel learns everything he would have had Joey lived. It is a big responsibility for a little brother to shoulder but he has stepped up in a huge way. I couldn't narrow down the pictures because I loved them all so much. I loved seeing our little boy perched on a dead tree while Uncle ties a hook on the line. I loved seeing Jake making sure Axel was situated in the tree before getting too far away. I loved the traditional pose of boy on man's shoulder...of little boy walking through the burnt moss - I can imagine him being intrigued by the sound of crunching under his feet. I loved the picture of Axel looking up at his uncle, knowing there is trust and admiration in that little face as he imitates what he sees. I loved the boyish happiness upon discovering a turtle and the way Jake let Axel work up his nerve to get close enough to touch it. The blue lips in the backseat from his Superman ice cream cone after a long day on the stream was so cute...and then there is the last one. I get teary everytime I look at it. I just love it. Love. Jacob, rough and gruff, holding his nephew close when he was too tired to walk back to the car. I'm so proud of Jake. He makes me want to step up, stretch out...be more.

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