If you watch enough Andy Griffith shows, you kind of get the idea that living in a rural town or in the country comes with some expectations. People expect friendliness. They expect the Golden Rule. They expect there is honesty and empathy among the businesses. And they expect that you will get a full sixty seconds out of your minute. Life on the farm was a lot like that. We worked hard, even us kids. We knew the value of neighbors because we all helped each other out. Yes, there were the normal disagreements, likes and dislikes, but at the end of the day, if someone needed help, we all pitched in. So the work was hard, but there was also time to relax.
Much of my “relaxation” was riding horses and playing in the woods. There was nothing like getting on my favorite horse and taking a ride through all the paths in the woods early in the morning before the flies got bad in the summertime. We had a lot of trails on the 100-acre farm. There was even a hallway of trees. These were mature trees that when they were young, someone had tied them over to create some sort of hallway along the path. We believed that the Indians did this to lead the way to some mounds that were situated near the end of the hallway. It was a nice path to gallop, but in all those years, we never disturbed the mounds. To this day, I don’t know if they are burial mounds or just mounds. Let it be.
One of the things that I never got into was fishing. I remember getting all excited one time about going fishing. You know, like Opie does with his dad at the beginning of every episode. So, I found a very old fishing pole in the shed. It had a red and white plastic bobber and an old hook on it. Digging up a few worms and putting them in a can, I hoisted the fishing pole across my shoulder and headed out toward the pond, whistling, or trying to whistle, the theme to the Andy Griffith Show. I found myself a nice spot along the bank of the pond, beneath an old oak tree with branches hanging over long enough to cast a shady shadow, and settled in. After baiting the hook, I tossed it out as far as I could into the murky water. After about an hour or so, nothing going on, no fish biting, I’m thinking to myself, “This isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.”
I was bored. There was no action. And I couldn’t just sit there any longer. So I reeled in, packed up and marched on home. That night at the dinner table, Dad asked me what I did all day. I told him that I went fishing at the pond. He looked over at Mom and they both got grins on their faces. Dad asked if I had caught anything. I lowered my head in defeat and said, “No.” And they both had a good laugh. Dad then told me that there weren’t any fish in the pond. He said for some reason that pond could never sustain any fish. Realizing I wasted my time, and I didn’t like sitting around, that was the end of my fishing. Rarely have I gone fishing since. Instead, I heard the call as Christ beckoned in Matthew 4:19, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” There’s a lot more action and I never get bored being a fisher of men.