As the last of the fish camp visitors began to trickle off back towards home, the campsite became quieter and quieter. Soon it was down to the two couples sitting by the campfire talking about what a grand success the fish fry had been. As the small talk began to wind down, his friend said “lets not cast the jugs tonight, we nearly have the freezer full. Let’s start a early domino game and visit with the neighbors.”
It had been gradually happening all week. Small supplies such as corn meal, cooking oil and so forth had been running in short supply. The last of the ice from the freezer had been used and replaced with catfish fillets frozen in water.
As the day of the fish fry had approached it was apparent that they would have more than enough fish to feed every body, even if several brought a friend. The warmer weather had every one looking for an excuse to get out side and enjoy it. And a invitation to a fish fry at the lake had brought out a good number.
The younger ones had braved the still too cool water, to swim and play, as the parents and grand parents visited over iced tea in the screen tent.
The guys had set up the fish cookers and prepared platters of golden fillets and hush puppies for the table. The ladies made slaw, tea, beans and all of the other fine lake cusine. The ladies were always trying out new recipes , some of which would be destined to become traditional lake standards. The aroma had drifted across the campsite and the swimmers would abandon the water long enough to check on the progress and to “snitch” a still hot hush puppy to hold them over until they heard the dinner call.
When the call of, “Let’s Eat” rang out everyone gathered close around the table, crowding in close for the “blessing.” A quick glance over the crowd showed that the families represented had much to be thankful for, as was mentioned in the brief prayer. Some had an arm around a loved one, some were holding hands, it was a great fellowship of friends and family.
The platters of fish, hush puppies and all of the trimmings soon disappeared.
Looking around for a trash can to put his paper plate in, he heard the first subtle call. It was a very quiet call at first, then more insistent. He knew exactly what it was when he first heard it. He had every intention of answering the call. It was the hammock that was being gently swayed by the lake breeze, that was calling to him.
Soon he settled deep into the hammock with his ball cap pulled low over his eyes. Closing his eyes he listened with pleasure at the kinfolks and friends chatting and playing nearby. The gentle sway soon put him to sleep.
The voice of the grandchild that had been sent to wake him called. “Grandpa’, wer’e fixin’ to go”.
He replied, “oh, I wasn’t asleep, I was just checkin’ my eyelids for leaks”. “Oh grandpa’, you always say that !”, the child replied.
Hugs, back pats, hand shakes and conversation about scuba diving trips and spearfishing later in the year, were interspaced with the slamming of car doors and good by’s.
As the couples joined forces to clear the table and prepare for the domino match the atmosphere was quiet after the rowdy afternoon. Every one in camp would sleep soundly that night after such a busy day at the lake. The week at the lake was nearly over.
The alarm wasn’t set, yet he got up just shortly before the scheduled time it would have went off. When his feet touched the floor in the dark, he knew. The place where Dillon should have been was empty. There wasnt even a warm place on the rug by the bed. He knew then that he might be late. He should have been awakend by the smell of the coffee, but he wasn’t. Every one was gone, but he knew where to find them. As he went to pour coffee into the mug, he realised that it was already full. Butcherknife had filled his mug then slipped silently outside. And he knew just where she had gone. Hurrying through the pre dawn chill he could see the line of lawn chairs in the distance. Dillon “woofed” a greeting to him as the others commented about his sleeping in.
They were lined up facing the East waiting for the sunrise of the last morning at the lake. He had just barely made it to his chair when the sun burst over the horizon and warmed his face.
No camera shutters clicked, no video cameras ran. They just sat quietly soaking up the beauty of this last Spring time sunrise at the lake.