Sunday, January 04, 2009
This is the San Sebastion River in St. Augustine, Florida.
It's almost certainly the river that gave my Dad polio when he swam in it's openly polluted waters back in his youth.
It is also the river of my youth, but I'm not done with it yet.
When I was really little, it's where Dad took us to castnet shrimp to use as bait when we went surf fishing.
As a little guy, I was the shrimp pickerupper and toss back dude. My job was twofold ... pick up the bait-sized shrimp for the bucket AND toss back the tiny ones and the multitude of juvenile fishes that came up in the net. Dad could not stand to waste life and he would point to the circle of dead fish and small shrimp that other shrimpers would leave on the shore and tell me how shamefull that was ...'It only takes a minute to toss 'em back."
Especially if you had me along.
Later, he had Mr. Capo, Minorcan castnet maker extraordinare, knit me a tiny 3 foot net so my 9 year old frame could cast too. This was before machine-made cheap castnets at Walmart existed.
That net just lit a fire that kept me returning to the San Sebastion through the bicycle days, bucket, castnet, and fishing rod clenched in one handlebar hand while the other did most of the steering. Eventually, I got real wheels, but it was pretty common in my high school days to see my green Gremlin or my Dad's borrowed Scout parked near the SR-16 bridge.
When I brought the future Mrs. FC home from college to meet the folks, I took her canoeing on the San Sebastion and got her completely covered in marsh mud. She passed the river test and we have 3 lovely children today.
(yes there is a mud picture ... no, I'm not allowed to post it)
I'd like to say I know every inch of this river from SR-16 to the King Street bridge, but that was then, and this is now, and rivers change don't they?
A bank is cut, a sandbar builds, an oyster bar expands ...
Never assume the river is telling the same tale it told you years before.
No doubt the San Sebastion has something new to tell me, it's been too long since we chatted, but something ... maybe that green fishing kayak outside, ... tells me we will talk again real soon.
So, ... what's your childhood river?