He Throws the Spear

He Throws a Spear (before you read this, read “A Spear in His Hand”)DSC_0010ed

He looked at the spear. He nervously swallowed. Then he lowered himself onto the spearing stool. He looked at grandpa, still holding the spear. Boone reached out his hand for the spear. It was heavier than he remembered, and he had carried it to the spear house. In his bare hand he felt the cold of the long steel handle. He took a deep breath and set the spear tines on the edge of the hole. The handle rested on his shoulder.

His eyes began to sweep the edges of the hole for a first view of a northern.

Pastor Andrew reached for the string holding the decoy. He said, “Ready Mr. Boone?” Boone could only nod. He was already focused on the activity below him in the water. He counted 6 sunfish around the edges. With a slight lean to the right he could see a bass and 3 more sunfish at the far-left edge of the hole. He would be alert for a change in this picture. Pastor Andrew pulled the decoy string. It went swimming in a circle beneath them, once, twice, three times and then Pastor Andrew released the string. The decoy swam more slowly and soon it stopped suspended in the center of the hole.

Boone knew that the movement of the decoy would be quickly picked up by any northern close by. He began to scan the edges. He watched for a change in the picture below him. The sunfish swam in closer to the decoy, first the 6 then the 3. The bass swam under the decoy and out of the hole on his right. He scanned back to the left and saw the nose of a fish. But as he watched he realized it was another sunfish. He took a silent breath, a false alarm.

Pastor Andrew broke the silence. “One could not find a better way to spend an afternoon than this,” he said. Though it was too dark to see, Boone could feel the smile on Pastor Andrew’s face. Softly Boone replied, “I agree.”  As he spoke the word agree, Boone saw something in the right corner of the hole. His boot was pointed toward the large dark green nose of a northern pike. Boone held his breath. Slowly, and silently, he lifted the spear and held it above the water. The fish would need to swim into the hole further in order for Boone to have a chance to spear it. Pastor Andrew rolled the decoy string between his thumb and forefinger. The decoy’s head moved slightly away from the northern.

As Boone watched the fish swam nearly up to the decoy. Now it was in full view, except the whole fish did not fit in the hole. Boone heard grandpa whisper, “big.” In the same instant, he heard Pastor Andrew whisper, “uh-huh it is. You can drop the spear on it now Boone.” He added. Silently Boone moved the spear to just behind the head of the big fish. Then he slowly lowered the spear into the water. Boone knew if the spear splashed into the water the fish would swim away. He had remembered what Pastor Andrew had said earlier.

With the spear just behind the head of the fish and partly into the water, Boone let the spear drop. Its weight quickly carried it toward the fish. Then the water below them began to churn. Boone saw a white flash, “fish belly,” he thought. Then he pulled on the string attached to the spear. The weight of the fish nearly pulled the string from his hand. With his other hand he reached for the end of the spear as it came up. Holding the spear was like holding a bucking horse. He put the other hand on the spear too and pulled the fish up. Boone thought the hardest part was over. He was wrong.

As the big fish was lifted up out of the water it began to flop its head and tail back and forth. Water splashed on all of them. The body of the fish slammed into the sides of the spear house. Suddenly, things were crazy in that tiny house. All Boone could do was hold on. He was not going to let this one go. Then he felt another hand on the spear. Grandpa had reached in to help. Together they lifted the crashing big fish toward the door. Pastor Andrew was already reaching around to get it open. When they laid it on the ice it gave a might heave and wrenched the spear out of their hands. The spear banged against the door of the house. Boone was off his stool in a second. On his way out of the door he barely managed to grab the spear handle and push the tines into the ice. The big fish was pinned. Suddenly Pastor Andrew was by his side. He said, “Boone, I got it now.”

Moments later the big fish had been subdued and measured. As Boone lifted the heavy fish to the pail, Pastor Andrew’s joyful voice announced, “it’s a 7 pounder!” Boone felt hands slapping on his back. As he looked into their faces he saw the two older men grinning at him. Grandpa came close and put an arm around his shoulder. “I’m proud of you Boone! Now before you put your fish in the pail, we have a few photos to take.” Bone could feel the smile creep across his face. He knew he liked fishing, but spearing was even better, it was marvelous. He looked over to Pastor Andrew. “Pastor Andrew, this was fantastic!” he whispered.


A Spear in His Hand

Boone’s eyes popped open. What time was it? What if he had overslept? What if Pastor Andrew had already come; and gone on without him? Immediately he turned his head to the clock at his bedside. With a sigh he lay his head on his pillow again. It was 6:00 AM. Pastor Andrew would not be coming until 8:30 AM. Boone had two and one-half hours to get ready. But except for breakfast and getting dressed, he was ready. He was ready when he went to bed last night. His boots, warm stocking cap, heavy coat, thermal pants and wool socks were by the door. Stuffed in one sleeve of his coat, his leather chopper mitts with wool liners were ready for him to take out.

He knew he could sleep till 7:00 and have time to be ready. But he could not. Quietly he got out of bed and in the before sunrise darkness of his room he got his base layer of clothing on. Just as quietly, he walked past his mom and dad’s room. He knew they would be up soon, but he didn’t want to wake them now. He knew what he would do before breakfast. It was something he’d seen his parents do when they first got up in the morning. He would read his Bible. He decided that after 11 years of life, he should read for himself what God said in the Bible.

It was hard to concentrate. He could see fish swimming in cold water. He did remember reading Jesus’ words about the “wise man who built his house upon the rock.” Boone knew what Jesus meant when he said the “rock.” He meant the Bible, God’s word. Boone knew that building his life on following the words of Jesus was a sure foundation. Quickly he asked for God to help him. A second later he was thinking about a hole in the ice and those fish he knew would be swimming in the cold water below. He checked the clock, it was only 6:30! He breathed a deep sigh, time was going so slowly. He jumped when he felt a hand on his shoulder and heard his mother say, “Would you like an omelet for breakfast?”

At 8:00 AM Boone had finished breakfast, brushed his teeth after his mother reminded him there was time, and he had all his warm gear on. He stood at the door waiting for Pastor Andrew. Wisely, his dad said, “Boone, since you have all your warm clothes on you can wait outside. That way you will see Pastor Andrew when he comes.” With a quick hug and, “Goodbye, I love you,” Boone was out the door. Outside, he checked the bird feeders in the back yard. He filled the two that were low on seed keeping a part of his attention on the front driveway of the house.

He checked his phone, the time was 8:20. Still 10 minutes before Pastor Andrew came. Waiting was so hard. Then he saw movement at the edge of his vision. It was Pastor Andrew’s pickup! Boone ran to the driveway. He was surprised to see his grandpa sitting on the passenger side. As Boone jumped into the seat in back he said, “Grandpa, I thought you didn’t like ice fishing?” Grandpa’s response made Boone glad, “I wanted to see you spear your first northern today. I even brought my camera.” Boone buckled up, he was more than excited.

The drive to the lake went quickly with Grandpa and Pastor Andrew talking about how deep the ice could be, how much snow there was on the ice, and the fish Pastor Andrew had been seeing. Boone thought he had never heard such fascinating things before in his life. Before he realized, they were parking by the lake. Pastor Andrew said they would walk on the ice, it was safer than driving. Within 5 minutes they were on the ice. “We can walk on water,” Pastor Andrew joked. He gave Boone the spear. The men carried the ice saw, chisel, spearing decoys and an empty bucket. Boone knew what the bucket was for. He looked at the spear and wondered how many fish would be inside it when they went home.

It took Grandpa and Pastor Andrew 40 long minutes to cut a spearing hole in the ice. Boone helped by cleaning the ice chips out of the hole. Grandpa warned, “Careful Boone, don’t slip and fall in. That water is ice-cold!” Boone stared into the dark water. He would be careful. With the ice chips cleaned out, the men slid the spear-house over the hole and adjusted it to fit over the ice hole. Pastor Andrew started the little heater in the corner. He said, “Boone, you can take off your coat and cap. You can stand behind your grandpa.” The three of them squeezed into the spear-house, there was room for all of them. Pastor Andrew gave grandpa the spear. “You start,” he said.

After a minute or two Boone’s eyes had adjusted to the darkness in the spear-house. He leaned over grandpa’s shoulder and peered into the water. It was like looking into an aquarium. But this was a lake! Boone began to see fish, 4 sunfish, a bass, and a black crappie swam in the clear water below them. As he looked to the edges of the hole he realized there were other fish swimming just at the edge of his vision. Boone guessed there were at least 15 fish in sight. He was speechless. Just then another movement caught his eye. Pastor Andrew pulled on a string that dangled into the center of the hole. At the end of the string was a small fish. But it was not alive. When Pastor Andrew lifted the string, the little fish swam in a circle. It looked like a real fish.

“It’s called a decoy Boone.” Said Pastor Andrew. “I was just going to ask you what that little fish is,” said Boone. “Watch it, but keep your eye on the edges of the hole now,” said Pastor Andrew, “something should happen soon.” Boone stared at the little fish, “decoy” as Pastor Andrew had said. Then he noticed something moving in the corner of the hole in front of his grandpa’s right boot. He saw the nose of a big fish, just the nose. “Look, grandpa! It’s a northern!” Boone whispered.

A week later Boone could remember what happened next. Slowly and quietly, grandpa picked up the spear. He moved it over the back of the fish, just behind its head. He slowly lowered the spear into the water, then in a blink, he sent the spear dropping toward the fish. Boone knew the fish was on the spear as it wriggled to escape. He watched amazed as grandpa pulled it up. When he lifted it out of the hole into the house chaos broke out. The fish was big. It splashed and thrashed until grandpa opened the door and carried it outside.

When grandpa was outside Pastor Andrew said, “Boone, you go out there, look at the beautiful fish your grandpa speared.” Careful to not step in the hole, Boone stepped out into the early morning sunshine. The big northern was stunning. Its camouflaged skin had lines of gold running from head to tail. Grandpa mercifully ended its life and handed it to Boone. “Keep your fingers out of its mouth,” he warned. DSC_0007ed

Boone took the big fish in his hands. It was heavy. Grandpa said, “this one may weigh 6 pounds. Put it in the pail, then use the towel to wipe the northern slime from your hands.” Boone knew the “slime” was like  northern skin. It smelled fishy too. Grandpa went inside the little house. Boone admired the beautiful fish head to tail a moment longer before he lowered it into the pail.DSC_0006ed

He realized he was alone outside. When he opened the door, grandpa held the spear to Boone. He said, “Now Boone, it’s your turn.” He looked at the spear in his hand. This was what he had been waiting for! Would he actually spear a fish?