Saturday, November 9, 2013


Michael said we were going to
find some fish.
LAST WEEK WE WALKED OUT THE GRASS WATERWAY TO THE MEADOW BEHIND THE BENSON TIMBER. We looked at beans along the way, now drying, getting even smaller in their pods. It was just a walk, but without really planning it, we realized we were both looking for the fish.
I thought he was joking.

Many years ago we walked back there with our oldest two boys. I probably carried the chubby, red-headed baby, the oldest in a turtleneck shirt with his shock of wheat hair walked alongside. Michael said we were going to find some fish, and I snorted, because we have a tiny stream back there, zigzagging out of the woods before it goes underground when it hits the meadow. But that stream only runs in spring and fall, or maybe after a heavy rain. It's little more than a trickle, washing over a stony bottom. We might see a salamander, or the prints of raccoons or deer, but it's not enough water to support a fish. I thought he was joking.

.In those days the waterway was full of weeds--goldenrod, milkweed, Jimson Weed, Multiflora Rose, sure, but also a lovely briar of Wild Rose as tall and as wide as a volkswagon bug. Grass was a tall as our oldest, and we blazed a trail through the Timothy and Bluestem, Canadian Rye and Indian Grass, or sometimes, when the brush was too much for him, edged along the side of the cornfield. But before we even got to the meadow, Michael stopped at a colony of milkweed. Its grey, thorny, looking seedpods were hanging from the plant like something prehistoric. Some had opened, spilling snow-white floss into the wind.

"There's a fish in here."
Michael picked one just barely dry and knelt carefully to show Chandra. My oldest bent his blond head solemnly over the my husband's cupped palm. "There's a fish in here," said Michael. "What does he have up his sleeve?" I wondered, and I bent over too, showing the baby. Michael carefully opened the pod, and sure enough, we could see the fish scales--the seeds all laid out in a regular pattern, the floss beneath still damp and tight in the pod. An eyeless fish, waiting to burst and spread its seeds across the prairie to feed the monarch butterflies.

Fish in Beauty; Cultivate Peace; Blessed Be.
I shake myself back to the present and take my husband's hand, and we continue our fishing expedition. We finally find a small school of fish plants at the very end of the furthest waterway. None of the seedpods is dry enough to burst, so we will come back next week to bring home seeds to plant in our yard, to give the monarchs some respite on their long journey.