Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Gift of Time

They tended their ten ice fishing traps regularly on a brilliant February afternoon – the 9-year-old boy and his 52-year-old uncle.

The boy skimmed the thin layer of ice from each hole and carried the plastic bucket of live bait; the uncle checked the traps and replaced bait when needed.
And they waited for the small blaze orange flags on the traps to pop up, signaling a catch.

They completed the process many times over a period of three hours, the two of them venturing to the furthest traps first before working their way back to the ones closest to the camp, where a roaring fire offered warmth and a break from the winter wind.

They talked as they moved from hole to hole – about what, exactly, I’m not sure. Knowing the boy’s chatty nature, it could have been about anything.

The warm sunny day grew colder as the sun sank lower and a biting wind swept across the frozen pond.

They started pulling their traps at 3:30, the uncle stacking them neatly in two pack baskets, the boy keeping the bait bucket open to reclaim the shiners that were still living – for use on another day.

“I’m sorry we didn’t have a single flag, Jack,” the uncle said. “Maybe we can try again next weekend. If we get a little snow, I’ll bring the snowmobiles out so you can ride around.”

“That’s okay, Uncle Dan,” the boy replied. His smile – and the thought of snowmobiling as well as ice fishing – indicated that it was.

Of all the gifts we receive during our lifetimes, perhaps the most precious is the gift of time.

Time to learn from our parents and teach our children.

Time to pursue a fulfilling career, to laugh with friends, to volunteer or sing, dance or create.

Time to hold the hand of a loved one as life comes to an end…or hold a newborn as life begins.

Time for a 9-year-old boy to learn how to ice fish from his uncle on a brilliant February afternoon.

Time - we often take it for granted, wish it away or waste it on things that don’t particularly matter in the course of a lifetime.

Instead, the gift of time should be recognized for what it is – a gift to be valued, treasured and used wisely.

In the end, how we spend the time we have determines whether a life has been well lived or squandered.

On a frozen pond in Maine, a 9-year-old boy recognized the value of the hours he spent with his uncle waiting for an orange flag to pop into the air.

And I’m quite sure his uncle did too.

1 comment:

  1. What a nice piece John, something Jack will treasure all his life!