Trolling with Wordsworth
A Short Story by B. B. Wright
Hardly able to contain myself, I stepped down from the driver’s side and took in several heaping lungfuls of the sweet pine air. Memories of my childhood made me giggle in its rush.
“It feels so good to be here again. Don’t you think, Julie? It’s been far too long. Aaah-oooooooooooooh! Aaah-ooooooooooooooh!”
“What the hell are you doing?” She asked as she exited the passenger side of the vehicle.
“It’s my wolf call.”
“I guessed that. But w-h-y? Do you think that’s wise?”
Having a low tolerance for such tomfoolery, I assumed she was somewhat discombobulated by my attempt at mimicry.
“Wise? It has nothing to do with being wise. It’s all about letting go and embracing the moment, Julie. Anyway, there aren’t any wolves in the area…I don’t think. Do you hear it?”
“What? That distant howling?” And, with a dismissive wave, she headed to the back of the SUV.
“I don’t hear any howl…Oh…I see…you’re just joshing me. You’d think I would have learned after forty years of marriage.” Joining her, I said: “Julie, just stop and listen for a moment.”
“What am I suppose to hear?” she asked as she opened the trunk of the van.
“Nothing. Only the serenity of silence and nature. And those smells! Aren’t they wonderful?”
Her askance look bellowed ‘ARE YOU CRAZY OR SOMETHING?’
“Julie, why don’t we leave the unpacking till later, eh? And run down to the dock?”
“Run? Down that rocky path?” She asked, cocking her head in the direction of the pathway. “You’ve got to be kidding?! You are kidding aren’t you? You’re not are you?!”
“Okay! Okay! I get it! Not run then. We’d go… carefully. It could be a serendipitous moment. What do ye say?”
The call of a loon caught our attention and for a moment we stood in silence listening until Julie piped up with: “I’m starving, you know? It’s long past my lunch time.”
I broke out into a cold sweat.
Unfortunately for me, I’d been on the wrong end of Julie’s mood swings when, in the blink of an eye, I’d seen her change from Jekyll to Hyde. And, it always starts with “I’m starving.”
My thoughts are already rushing ahead to ‘circling the wagons’ and screaming: FEED HER! FEED HER, NOW! AND QUICKLY!
Tentatively I asked: “Julie? There is a barbeque at the dock and we could cook that partial package of wieners we have in the cooler on it?”
Immediately, she stopped pulling out her suitcase.
I had struck the right chord.
“Picnic?” she queried.
Breathing a sigh of relief and trying to contain my excitement over this totally unexpected possibility, I replied: “Yes dear…a picnic.” Eagerly, I pulled out the cooler and set it on the ground. “We can use the picnic table already down there to eat on.”
“We’ll need a table cover to put the plates on, John.”
“It should still be in the boathouse. Let’s go.”
Twenty minutes later, we had finished our lunch of hotdogs and salads. Or at least Julie had. As for me, I was tucking away my third dog while I watched her place the lids back on the salad containers.
The lake was as smooth as glass and it was early enough in the season that the lake wasn’t abuzz with motorboats and the general busyness of cottagers.This was the opportunity I was waiting for: a romantic row on the lake. I had even remembered to tuck a collection of Wordsworth poetry in my pocket for the occasion.
“Julie? Once you’ve put the salads in the cooler, why don’t we take a row on the lake?”
“That sounds wonderful, John.”
“Well…there is a hitch.”
“Ah…yes…You’ll need to do the rowing.”
Her look was less surprised than it was darn right scary. The kind of look which shouted: IF I COULD KILL YOU RIGHT NOW I WOULD.
“Only initially,” I continued. “You see I have a romantic surprise for you. And I’ll need to sit at the back of the boat to do it justice.”
After a few awkward moments entering the boat, the two of us took up our positions, she at the oars and me at the stern, and pushed away from the dock. Five minutes out, I retrieved my small, telescopic fishing rod from my inner pocket and unrolled the line with the fly I had tied from the previous evening. From my other pocket I pulled out the first page of poetry entitled Love from my shirt pocket and, as I trolled, I began to read it to her:
“All Thoughts, all Passions, all Delights,
Whatever stirs this mortal Frame,
All are but Ministers of Love,
And feed his sacred flame.”
A momentary tug at my fishing line interrupted my reading. Testing the line I decided it was a false alarm and I continued to read:
“Oft in my waking dreams do I
Live o’er again that happy hour,
When midway on the Mount I lay
Beside the Ruin’d Tower…”
And, I thought, this moment could not be better: Wordsworth and fishing.
“Isn’t this romantic Julie?”