Enjoying a summer afternoon with a granddaughter

Published 6:52pm Saturday, August 18, 2012

It’s been a long hot summer (sounds like a good name for a movie) but we have managed to survive. We are lucky to live in a community that is surrounded by lakes and has so many nice parks that are there for our enjoyment. There is a lot to be said about spending a little time in the outdoors on a hot summer day.

Can you remember the last time that you sought relief from the summer heat by sitting in the shade of a tree while a gentle breeze wipes the sweat from your brow? I have found that although I appreciate the convenience of air conditioning I still enjoy spending time outdoors in the heat of the summer.

A couple of weeks ago I was enjoying a day of babysitting my granddaughter, Emma. She really loves spending time playing in the outdoors whether it be watering Grandma’s flowers, playing in the dirt or jumping in a puddle of water. She likes it all. It was pretty warm on that particular day, but there was a nice breeze so we took a couple of lawn chairs and sat in the shade to enjoy that breeze.

Although she is only 3 years old she loves to talk and can carry on a conversation like she is much older. I have to be on my toes because she definitely has plenty of questions and wants an answer to each one. Emma usually stays busy and likes to be doing something all the time but on this day she was content to sit with Grandpa and talk. The shade, a nice breeze and the constant conversation with my granddaughter made this a great day.

There is still plenty of nice weather left to get out and enjoy one of our many area parks. Years ago we would spend time at Pioneer Park when there wasn’t much there; in fact I can remember going there as a kid with my mom and dad. There would usually be a special occasion involved like my folk’s anniversary or Mother’s Day.

A favorite treat of mine was when they would buy Maid Rites and we would go to Pioneer Park for a picnic. Mom would whip up a batch of her never-to-be-duplicated potato salad and we’d open a can of Van Camps beans. Now to me that was real living back then because we very seldom ever ate out. I have to wonder does anyone even go on picnics anymore? It seems like the days of the old wicker picnic basket, the checkerboard table cloth and picnic plates have gone the way of the Edsel.

As I grew older and was allowed to ride my bike to town during summer vacation I would have one main purpose — fish! I can remember the first time that I caught a bass in Fountain Lake, I was fishing at Pioneer Park and I had slipped a worm on a hook with a bobber and had just cast it out under the branches of a willow tree that was hanging over the water.

About that same time a speedboat went cruising by and as the waves bounced my bobber up and down it suddenly disappeared. At first I thought it had just snagged bottom causing it to be pulled under which happens occasionally when fishing too deep. As I began reeling it in I realized that there was a nice fish on the other end and it had no plans of ending up on the dinner table.

After following the fish along the shoreline I finally landed it with the help of my friend Pat Smith. The fish turned out to be about a 2-1/2 pound smallmouth bass. I continued to fish after I had put the fish on my stringer but the excitement of my “big” catch was too much, so Pat and I decided to head home. I hung the stringer from the handle bar on my bike and back tracked so that I could ride past the Northside Creamery (Dairy Bar) on the way out Bridge Avenue.

I was making sure that the fish would be seen by as many people as possible. Catching that bass was probably the highlight of the summer for me because I had never caught a bass in Fountain Lake before, and I had no idea that there were even any smallmouths in the lake. I have no picture of the fish because in those days picture taking was for family events and special occasions and this evidently was neither. No picture is really necessary as long as I have the memory of a good day spent fishing with an old friend.

With all the outdoor facilities that we have at our disposal there are those that choose to use and abuse them. We have the basketball courts by the pool where people play ball and then leave their trash behind. The thing that bothers me most about this is that there are trash receptacles within 10 feet of the strewn garbage. Another thing is fast food — how many times have you seen drink containers or garbage from a fast food place laying in the street or left in a park not far from a trash can?

We need to take pride in our community and do our part to keep it looking clean. I am sure that the Parks and Recreation workers don’t look at cleaning up after someone as a job opportunity. I don’t even want to imagine what these people’s homes must look like if they treat their parks this way.

Until next time, enjoy the outdoors and take a little time to share the experience with our youth.

Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers because they are the reason we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.


Dick Herfindahl’s column appears in the Tribune each Sunday.