Many years ago, we decided to vacation in Minnesota, where my husband and I grew up. This trip was ‘inspired’ by a family friend who said he’d love to go with us ‘ere we went so he could enjoy some fishing! We would not be joining him in the sport. My husband hates fish and I was made to go fishing with my grandpa as a little girl, and remember being told to hold still and be quiet so as not to ‘scare the fish’ . . . this is beyond cruel to a chatty 9 year old.
There’s 10,000 lakes in the state and we chose one north of Brainerd. We stayed at a little resort with a dock right outside the cabin door. The water was shallow and you could walk straight into the lake for 100 feet and still only be up to your knees and it was in this shallow water that my oldest son ‘walked’ his fish ‘Spike’.
Our sons were 8 and 5 years old at that time and I was pregnant with son number three. It was late September, after the first hard freeze. This is the perfect time of year to go to Minnesota. For these two weeks the weather is a perfect 72 degrees, no mosquitoes, it’s heaven. Prior to these to weeks you burn up with 90 degree heat all day and all night long while mosquitoes feast on you – biting through your clothes. It’s like they put out an APB on out of state folks: “FRESH MEAT – COME AND GET ‘EM”. After the 2 weeks of heaven, it snows. It snowed as we left the end of the week.
Our friend caught a Northern Pike the second day of fishing. It’s a long skinny fish with a set of teeth that look like they’ll take a finger off ya for fun. He had the Pike on a stringer, a clasp that goes through the mouth and gill, which can look like a leash to an 8 year old. I’m thinking Jarl asked what kind of fish it was and the answer, “It’s a Pike” sounded like ‘Spike – and that became the fish’s name.
Jarl grabbed the leash and took Spike for a walk around the dock. I can still see the boy and fish walking along the dock, Spike’s fin waving back and forth in the water beside Jarl and Jarl reaching down and patting him as if to encourage him. This walking went on for a couple of days and Spike seemed to like it. Well, he didn’t seem to mind it? Heck – I don’t know what the fish was thinking!
On the third day, I came walking out of the cabin only to meet Jarl coming down the path with a sick, panicked look on his face.
“What’s the matter, honey?”
With his eyes clouding up and his facial expression turning into pain he replied, “Mr. Owens said we were going to give Spike a bath and then he chopped off his head!!!”
“Give Spike a bath? What exactly did he say, hon?”
“He said, (sniff) he said. . . . said ‘let’s go clean Spike’ and he chopped his head off!!”
Needless to say, we left Spike in some friend’s freezer on the way home and didn’t mention him the rest of the trip.
Funny – Jarl has never liked fishing, either. Must be some kind of genetic thing.