Creek

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Creek: (n) a stream smaller than a river.

I’m sorry. That’s hardly a definition.

“Smaller than a river?” Isn’t that a rather broad category?

That’s not my recollection of a creek.

My memory of a creek is that if you waded in, it wouldn’t go much above your knees. The water, that is.

And there were so many rocks, fallen trees and leaves nearby that the flow was pretty brisk, a little splashy, and you could often see all the way to the bottom.

I was always taught that if you couldn’t see to the bottom of the creek or if the water wasn’t moving, you should probably not drink it. (This information was not given to me by a Native American or some scout hunting buffalo. I think it was my older brother, and I can’t count how many times he was wrong.)

But we had a little piece of land outside town that we owned, and we called our “farm.” It was a rather pitiful situation. My dad wanted to get some agrarian roots into our lives, so he tried to raise chickens, strawberries, some corn—and he built himself a little cabin in the nearby patch of woods, so he could occasionally escape, to play the part of Jack London “calling to the wild.”

Right next to that cabin, though, was a creek.

It wasn’t much of anything, but it was certainly shallow enough that every once in a while, when a fish got trapped because it missed a turn in one of the nearby rivers or got distracted from the reservoir—well, you could see it as clearly as if it were staring you in the face.

We had such a fish which I tried to catch on several occasions.

It was extremely odd. I could see the fish moving, imagine what it was thinking, but I still ended up frustrated as the fish stole my bait and wiggled away.

One day I came home from school and my older brother had an iron skillet on the stove and was frying up what ended up being a big fish.

I said, “Hey, Dan, where’d you get the fish?”

He laughed and replied, “You know that big ole’ fish that was in the creek? I caught it.”

I went to my room and cried.

I don’t exactly know the complete reason for my tears, but I imagine it was the mingling of getting bettered by my brother, not catching the fish myself, seeing it lay in the pan as an entrée—or maybe just knowing that my creek had lost its only friend.

 

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Bait

Bait: (n) food used to entice fish or other animals as prey.Dictionary B

My dad was a fisherman.

Some folks would say my dad fancied himself to be a fisherman.

My mother might have concluded that my dad went fishing to get away from home.

Whatever the case, he had an adequate array of rods, reels, hooks, sinkers, bait and tackle to be considered worthy of the aspiration.

My dad had five sons, and he quickly assessed which ones he thought were better suited for hunting and fishing.

Being the fourth son, for some reason or another, he decided that I was not bent in the direction of the standard woodsman. I don’t know how he came to this conclusion. I was actually the only one of my brothers involved in sports, and certainly had an aptitude for floating in a boat and throwing a line in the water to snag a hapless aquatic creature.

I only went fishing with him a few times–and because I wasn’t given many opportunities, on the paltry occasions when I was with him, I acted a little squeamish.

Especially when it came to the bait. We used two kinds: night crawlers and minnows.

Night crawlers are worms and minnows are little, tiny fish-like creatures with one big eye on them. (Or I think it’s one.)

I was not real thrilled about the idea of grabbing a worm from the peat moss and putting it on my hook. It wasn’t because I was sensitive about killing the crawler, it just felt funny.

My dad thought this was hilarious.

I also did not know where to place my hook into the minnow to make it the most appealing to the creatures we were trying to trick. I did catch on, but not before my father had a chance to stereotype me as a “weinie-woman.”

So much to my chagrin, I have not fished as much during my life as I would like to, because of those run-ins with the bait.

I think it is completely permissible to be a little bit nervous around worms and minnows…until you finally get the feel for it.

 

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Anchovy

dictionary with letter A

Anchovy: (n) a small shoaling fish of commercial importance as a food used for fish bait. It is strongly flavored and preserved with high amounts of oil and salt.

The dangerous thing about knowledge is that it rarely accentuates your pleasure, but rather, puts a pin in your balloon and leaves you with the reality instead of the misrepresentation.

There are many examples, but on this day, they seem to be embodied in the tiny anchovy.

Little did I know that they were bait.

Even though many of my friends like anchovies on their pizza (a taste, I have explained to them, which could just as easily be achieved by dumping a salt shaker on the crust) I really don’t think any of them know they’re eating fish bait.

But it should be obvious. Don’t the little things have hairy legs?

Now, I have on occasion eaten a pizza with anchovies because I was surrounded by individuals who thought it was a status symbol to prefer the little boogers on their Italian delight.

I have even pretended to enjoy it. Even though I pride myself, to some degree, in being a candid-type fellow, I am not without my pretense. And the specter of being the only person in the room objecting such a refined pizza-topping choice has left me succumbing to the mob mentality and participating in eating what I now know is fish bait.

  • I suppose I shouldn’t make the point that we wouldn’t eat night crawler pizza.
  • Anyone up for minnows and onion?

But truthfully, I have no problem with anyone who has a certain taste, unless they have selected it because they think it makes them more refined and sets them apart from the sausage servants and pepperoni paupers.

Now, if I run across one of them, I will inform them that they’re hooked on what belongs on a hook.

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Anchor

dictionary with letter A

Anchor: (n) a heavy object attached to a rope or chain and used to moor a vessel to the bottom.

It was made of aluminum, about twelve feet long, with three wooden, bench seats inside, one of the perches broken.

It was my dad’s boat.

It more resembled a canoe with a thyroid problem.

But whenever my dad launched his vessel onto the great and mighty waters of Hoover Lake, he suddenly transformed into some sort of John Paul Jones, which to me as a boy, appeared as a nautical monster.

He began using the lingo of the sea and was perpetually angry with his crew–embodied solely in myself.

He explained that the best way to fish was to find a quiet, deep lagoon and drop your anchor so your boat wouldn’t move, and you would be present with your bait, to lure in the schools of fish. (Often we often must have arrived during some sort of fish holiday–because the schools were usually out.)

Nevertheless, he yelled at me to drop anchor, which was a forty pound cube of cement block, which he had put together by pouring it into a plastic bucket and then destroying the bucket to free the cement once it had hardened. Attached to this heavy clump was a rope.

Now, you must realize–we only had twenty-five feet of rope on our anchor–which is fine is you happen to be perched in twenty-three feet of water. But as I lifted the huge mass over the side of the boat and dropped it into the water, I was never sure if it actually hit the bottom.

So after an hour or so, my dad would look up from his fishing pole, where he had frozen his eyes intently, and realize that we had floated far from our desired spot.

This initiated a whole new tirade of “captain-to-deck-swab” complaints. I tried to defend myself by explaining that we did not have enough rope to reach the bottom of the lake, but he never seemed to quite comprehend that if the anchor doesn’t land on the bottom, it really doesn’t keep you in place.

What great symbolism.

After all, if our anchor is floating along with society’s ideas and standards instead of landing firmly on solid ground, we, too, tend to drift from our preferred placement.

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