Summer doesn't officially end until midnight on Saturday, Sept. 21.
I don't know about you, but I'm squeezing as much out of the remaining days of summer that I can. Recently we loaded up the truck and hauled the 1955 Alumacraft boat to a nearby lake where the grandsons took turns fishing. This was the first time that I had taken the 12-footer out with two adults and two children, and once I got the 9.9 HP Johnson Outboard going, I discovered the limits of that motor. Earlier this summer I took the other two grandsons out in the boat, and it just flew, convincing me that the motor is capable of pulling an inflatable tube. However, with two adults on board it may still pull the tube, but it is going to be a slower ride. On this latest outing the boat came up on plane, and did not achieve the terminal velocity we had witnessed earlier.
I suppose that's OK. With young grandchildren it can be pretty easy to scare the buh-jeebers out of them. I just don't see that being the case for very long. They grow up fast, and they like speed! They also get bored pretty quickly. Sitting in one place on the lake for too long really wound them up. When grampa couldn't keep the motor running they got antsy, too. I rowed it for a while, and they didn't like getting splashed every now and then. OK, so I can be a sloppy rower.
Thank goodness we brought plenty of snack food and liquid refreshment. Keeping their mouths full while I was pulling away on the rope starter was quite helpful. Answering questions about why the motor wasn't starting got annoying in a hurry. Wait a second, I've only owned a boat with an outboard motor for a month or so, nobody should expect me to understand all of the nuances of the motor.
The last time I took it out was right after it got a tune-up and a throttle part replaced. The spring return and a plastic seating ring on the choke stopped working after the first couple of pulls. The spring probably just came unhooked, but the plastic seating ring disintegrated into three pieces. Rather than fixing it, I brought along a real professional tool the next time we took it out. A wooden clothes pin. Believe it or don't, that clothes pin saved the day. Once I figured out that the plastic seating ring kept the choke from "over-closing" I was able to position the clothes pin just right to keep the motor running. Once we returned from the lake I got online and searched for the part. This repair I can do myself, and that's how it's gonna get done.
Did we catch any fish with our big fat Canadian night crawlers obtained at a local Jiffy Mart? No. Not even a nibble. It was the same for both outings with the grandsons. I'm thinking it was the decibel level coming from the boat. If one brother wasn't needling the other, or if they weren't all talking way too loud for being on a lake, someone would pass gas on the beautifully finished wooden seats. This exchange of pressurized air against the relatively hard seats would cause the entire aluminum superstructure to resonate, sending a warning to fish for at least 100 yards in all directions, maybe further. Give me a well stocked pond full of hungry foot long Rainbow Trout over lake fishing any day. If someone should pass gas while casting into a pond, it becomes the proverbial tree falling in the forest as far as the fish are concerned.
Were these young men concerned about the lack of fish? Not one bit. Once firmly buckled into their car seats in the back seat of the truck, they were out within minutes, snoring away. When returned to their parents, they were fully tuckered out, which I am certain was seen as a blessing. With all the rowing and rope starter pulling and annoying frustration, grampa was tuckered out too. It was a good kind of exhaustion. Sun, wind, water and plenty of physical exertion is good for what ails you.
So, with the meager remaining weekends of summer quickly slipping away, I think I'm good for at least one more grandson outing. Gentle mists coming off the water in the mornings will soon signal an end to the season. Long after the autumn winds have dispersed those mists as the air/water temperatures equalize, I'll still venture out there a couple more times. Most likely without grandkids. When summer rolls around again, I hope they're all up for another outing with grampa. Just being together out on the water with the children of my children will be joy enough, and we really don't have to catch anything to enjoy the time.
Arlo Mudgett's Morning Almanac has been heard over multiple radio stations in Vermont for nearly 30 years, and can be tuned in at 92.7 WKVT FM Monday through Saturday mornings at 8:35 a.m.