Back to the Day Job, But Still Composting the Painting

Fishing Memories

Fishing Memories

I am still too sick to feel effective as a teacher today, though my students are treating me with respect and deference, and doing their tasks.  I am just hanging on, trying to shake the lingering effects of strep throat and a nasty sinus infection.  It has sucked all the energy out of me.  Nevertheless, I want to attach a piece of fiction to this painting.  The scenario has been moving about in my head for a couple of weeks now, so I thought I would try to put it out there in print.

The quiet neighborhood was shattered by the sharp crack of three crushing blows from the ball-peen hammer that broke open the padlock on the old fisherman’s shed door.  Day-before-yesterday, they found him dead, seated upright in his favorite back-porch metal lawn chair, with a cold cup of coffee and his tattered copy of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass on the side table.  Beneath the layers of his faded beard, they thought they could detect a slight smile.  His book was opened to “Song of Myself” and he had underlined in pencil: “I am large; I contain multitudes.”  The onlooking friends mused about his eight decades and all that his life had encompassed.

Entering the dim interior of the fishing shack, they looked silently at the tangled pile of gear in the corner, and hesitated to gather it up, as though rudely disrupting the sanctity of a shrine.  There lay the Garcia Mitchell 300 open-faced reel, with which he had landed his 6-lb. largemouth bass while poking about the lily pads in a rowboat one evening on Hunnewell Lake.  He was only a teenager then.  The bait caster was still there–the one he never could seem to get the hang of, trying in vain to cast old wooden bass plugs without backlash.  His Uncle Art would just look on, shake his head, smile, and mumble through the smoke of his Lucky Strike:  “Cute Kid.”  The Pflueger fly reel and vintage bamboo rod were a gift from an aged farrier in Pine, Colorado, who passed them on as a torch, noting that his fly fishing days were behind him.  The battered suitcase was from college days back in ’42, when he hopped the Frisco passenger train for his monthly cross-the-state visits to his parents back home.  And on that train, he was always served Dining Car Coffee.  And the old knapsack–he never tired of bragging on the day he talked an Athenian merchant out of that tattered leather bag for $12.  On that day, he owned the world.  

The friends stood there silently, their eyes surveying the stack of assorted memories, each item with its own story, clinging to its own fragment of history.  

And now it was time to take down the monument and move on.  New chapters were waiting to be written.

Thanks for reading.


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8 Responses to “Back to the Day Job, But Still Composting the Painting”

  1. Sara Says:

    What a good little story. It was actually kind of emotional for me because my grandpa just passed away and it reminded me of him a little.


  2. BJR Says:

    Love the story!! My grandpa was an avid fisherman…though he mainly stuck with Zebco. He would have loved this painting!! I do, too. It has an emotional tug to it. (BTW…that “cold” takes a long time to get over. I “worked on it” for over a month!! Take care.) BJR


    • davidtripp Says:

      Thank you. Today I am much better. Zebco! Now that brings back my childhood–my very first push-button reel. I’m glad you found some connection to the story. I write and paint these things from my own memories and hope that they find a home with other readers and viewers as well. Thank you so much.


  3. artsifrtsy Says:

    I love the story – I also really like what you have done with the lantern – it’s emerging from that shadow – very nice!


    • davidtripp Says:

      Thank you so much. I’m still trying to make up my mind on the lantern. I am pretty much satisfied with the rest of the painting. It’s about time to let it go (except for the lantern!).


  4. Xraypics Says:

    Great progress. The shadow behind the lamp has made a huge improvement, and I think you must have worked on the hurricane lantern itself. Gee, I can remember using these at night on my grand-dad’s farm in Zambia when I was a kid, along with hissing Primus lamps and the warm smell of burning kerosene.Tony


    • davidtripp Says:

      My God, that is so Proustian–“the warm smell of burning kerosene”!! I grew up with that on my grandparents’ farm. Wish I could smell it now. Thank you for the comments on the lamp. I’m still not sure about it. Everything else in the composition I think I am ready to leave alone.


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