Aunt Liz


By Matthew Atkinson:

In my childhood my family used to visit my Grandfather’s place in northwestern Connecticut for a week or a weekend here and there. Usually we would stay nearby in an antique farmhouse with my aunts, uncles and slightly older cousins and later in a large boarding house bought by my uncle Bill as a vacation place. Mostly we just hung out there and marched around playing army games arranged by my cousin Web or played kick the can or a nighttime variation called German Spotlight.

FishingDoolittle4
Author at Doolittle Lake 1973

Sometimes in the summer my cousin David and I were rousted out of bed at 4:30 in the morning by my aunt Liz to go fishing on Benedict Pond nearby. We got in the station wagon with various rods and spinning reels and tackle boxes. We had an old, wooden grey rowboat that probably belonged to my grandfather stashed by the pond and we loaded up our fishing poles and shoved off. Aunt Liz rowed while Dave and I trolled our lines from the stern. We mostly turned up Perch and nasty Pickerel, a spiny, spiky, slippery thing that was difficult to get off the hook. Back they went into the pond worse for the wear to look for a bug or another shiny spinner flashing by. These were warm, early summer days. The pond was peaceful as the sun came up and the fish started to eat bugs off the surface of the pond. The only sounds were our hushed voices, the creak of wooden oars, and David peeing off the stern. Often, we snagged a lily pad and had to work to get the hook and line back in the boat.

I remember only once (?) one of us hooked a good-sized bass, the prize we were apparently after. I think we had a rubber worm on the hook. Aunt Liz was thrilled and coached us through the struggle with the fish, alternately giving it some line and reeling it closer to the boat. Then she was out with the net and giving it a clubbing with the end of an oar. Six pounds of pure joy for Aunt Liz. It might have been three pounds or ten, but this is a fish story. We trolled for a little longer, but we had what we were after. On shore Aunt Liz cut the fish down its belly, cleaned out the guts and wrapped it up in wet grass.

Then back in the car and a short ride home as the sun came up. Bass for breakfast. Maybe a trip to Doolittle Lake for a swim later. We could always count on Aunt Liz to advocate for ice cream on the way home.


Matthew W. Atkinson, 2020


Note: Aunt Liz is my late sister-in-law. Matthew is my son.


CLimericks

With apologies to Edward Lear


Marshall’s Madness (Seneca Rocks)

         Cried Sarah, "I'm feeling right gripped!",
         As her toe, from a jam, slowly slipped.
             "This source of rope drag
             Must be a bad zag
         Produced by that zig I last clipped."           Maura Slack

Connecticut Cloudburst (Ragged Mountain)

         On the lead, when deluged from the sky,
         Sarah feared she was destined to die.
             All heard her last shout:
             "Be sure to hang out
         My slings and my Lycra to dry!"                 Paul Nylon

Bonnie’s Roof, 2nd Pitch (‘Gunks)

         As Bill traversed out past the pin
         He announced, with a sickening grin,
             "It's fifty years old
             And I can't reach the hold;
         Please notify my next of kin!"                  A. Rusty Trifle

Cathedral Concentration (New Hampshire)

         Sarah found the protection most thin.
         But, at last, an RP would slip in.
            With her mind thus at ease
            The crux seemed a breeze
         'Til she noticed she'd failed to clip in!       Hannah Solo

On the Demise of the Gendarme (Seneca Rocks, four weeks before it fell)

         Believing that sentry ill-starred,
         They crept so's to mount it un-jarred.
             No aeon knows when...
             But had it failed then
         'T would surely have caught them off guard!     Virginia West

Debonn-Air-e Show

         Went a bold mountain pilot named Walling
         To the Tetons to practice his calling.
             Rolled edgewise in flight,
             Rit shot the Gunsight
         By wielding his stick without stalling.         B. Twain Owen-Grand

Virgin Ascent (Kansas City, MO)

         When she found that the line had a lack
         Of ascent Margaret shouldered her rack,
             Donned her stealth rubber boot,
             And jammed up the route
         Which thenceforth became "Margaret's Crack".    Primo Ascenza

Sleight of Foot

         The friction climber climbs
         Where angels won't.
         Now you see him climbing...
         Now you don't.                                  Dave Bernays

Rock to Ice

         He considered bold climbing his forte,
         Until he tried cragging up norte.
             All routes now blue-icy;
             Protection way dicey.
         Thus learned him the meaning of sporte.         Sarah Waddell

Hard Hat Manque

         As she rapped off the end of her cord,
         Sarah, helmetless, laughed as she soared:
             "As I land upside down,
             Without my Joe Brown"
         They'll say "Proof that she's out of her gourd." Sarah Waddell

Filial Duty

         "On belay!" shouts Dad with a grin.
         "Climbing,", say I with chagrin.
             "This sure ain't no 'Trifle',
             (much more like the Eiffel).
         Why can't I switch with my twin?"               Matt Atkinson

Nature Study

         Some eighty-five feet in the air;
         A snake falls into my hair.
             Each handhold I seek,
             Provokes a new "Eek!"
         In each crevice a millipede's lair.             Meg Atkinson

Fraternal Love

         "Oh twin," says you "we must switch."
         "How's about you, and not I, climb this pitch?"
             "Who, me?" I reply.
             "That pitch is too high!"
         "Let elder to rope become hitched."             Gemini