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The important things in life

Over the weekend, an old friend stopped by for a visit. I do not mean to imply the friend was old, but that our friendship was made almost thirty years ago. I guess that would make him old in some people's eyes, and does not say much for me.

Duane left Iowa many years ago and made a life for himself in California. He was interested in seeing old friends, but more interested in showing the Midwest to his wife. Being a native of California, she had never seen the beauty nor experienced the slower pace of living we take for granted.

Maureen was shocked at how green the Midwest is without irrigation. I explained it rains here, and sometimes it rains a lot. Our part of the country is lush, beautiful, and green even without help. The bird's singing woke them up early the next morning. I had never thought about it, but apparently having 20 or so different species of birds right outside our window is not the norm in other places.

We eventually made our way to the farm to show a couple from California what Midwesterners do for entertainment. We do not go on wine tours or to the city to go shopping. We go fishing. The best way to spend free time is to get out and enjoy nature at its best.

The sun was warm and a light breeze blew across the lake as we launched the boat. I jumped in and turned on the trolling motor to bring it around to the dock. The trolling motor did not make a sound. While I slowly drifted out into the lake, I used all my mechanical abilities to get the motor to start. Neither cursing it nor pounding on it with my fist made the slightest difference. With my mechanical intervention exhausted, I used my hands to paddle back to shore. I was feeling rather discouraged that we could not go fishing when my wife suggested we could use the canoe and paddle boat. What a brilliant idea. The paddle boat is generally used by women or children to play in the lake but could be a passable fishing craft. The canoe is new and we have yet to use it for anything other than racing around the lake at top speed.

The women took the paddle boat since it is hard for a guy to look cool fishing from one. Women are not so concerned about looking cool while they fish. Duane and I paddled the canoe out to where the crappie lie, looking good while we did it.

We fished away the afternoon, catching up on old times and enjoying the quiet. We saw a raccoon hunting along the shore and deer coming out of the timber as the sun began to set. The breeze died down causing the surface of the lake to look like a giant sheet of glass reflecting the setting sun. The fishing was lousy but nobody seemed to care one way or the other. The few fish we did catch were released and we headed back to shore.

Before they left to return to California, Duane and Maureen both commented about a day enjoying the outdoors is good therapy. There are many ways to spend one's life but the simple things such as taking the time to go fishing and enjoying the natural beauty around us with old or new friends is what is important.

Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Bloomfield, Iowa.