Memories flood my brain of picnics, fishing, playing and carving in this same park, the Tom Searles Memorial Park on Old Route 1. Shortly after my sister’s disappearance a new Route 1 was built and this little section was transformed from a busy road into one traveled only those living in that direction, summer campers and patrons of the New Haven Building Supply. This beautiful and simple site can still be seen as you travel this secluded route if you take a moment to look and breathe in its reminder of slower and quieter days.
Flashback thirty plus years: I remember my father walking Heidi and I the half-mile down the road holding the lantern in one hand and a bucket full of tackle in the other. Heidi and I managed to carry our fishing poles, the worms with huge smiles on our face for the time we would spend together and with Dad. Mom was missing all the fun…or was she? (LOL – now I know the truth – she enjoyed a good book, nap or crossed things off the list in record time because we were out from under her feet) We loved to spend time learning how to fish with Dad. We were happy even when we didn’t fish, just to be with him. Dad reminded us each and every time to be quiet so as not to scare away the fish, we smiled and said “We won’t dad, we promise!” Famous last words…
Dad set a lantern on the bank to shine along the creek’s edge (probably to keep the two of us from falling in) and one closer to where the bucket had been transformed into Dad’s seat. Once the lanterns were in place we approached the water to feel its temperature and watch for fish while dad gave instructions and set up his poles. All of a sudden there was a fish staring at us beneath the water so close we could reach out and catch it with our bare hands so we would turn quietly to whisper, “Dad there is a fish.” NOT! You didn’t buy that did you? No, when we saw the fish we would jump up and down yelling, “DAD, A FISH, DAD, DAD…DID YOU SEE IT?” He never got angry but would laugh and say, I guess we won’t have fish for a snack tonight. I don’t think we ever learned to keep our mouths quiet…especially when fishing.
Since the park was so close to home we would ride our bikes down and have picnics during the summer. Uncle Tom and Aunt Linda even purchased swings, a teeter-totter, a merry-go-round, a couple rocking horses and a slide to entertain us and the other neighborhood children when we would meet up there to play. It was great! Even as we grew into tweens and teens – we still ventured to Uncle Tom’s park. We would sit on the swings and talk or simply watch the water. Our rebellion shined through sometimes as we climbed atop the picnic tables chained to the trees to carve our names into the bark for all to know we had been there. I’m not sure what we used to carve but I know we wrote our names and then as we aged, hearts and initials like in the old movies. We loved it!
During our picnics or after fishing we could pump the water to wash up. We had to take turns – it was the coldest and best tasting water. I haven’t attempted to utilize this pump in the past few years. I don’t know if it still works for if it simply is a symbol and reminder of one man’s love for his community, family and nature. I would imagine if we tried the pump and water did trickle and then flow from the spout it would be dirty from sitting idle for so long. It might take a few extra pumps and some cheese cloth to prepare this water pump and well to become a cool refreshing drink again this summer.
My Gram had a similar pump behind her house, painted black and she kept cheese cloth over its spout. I remember asking “Why?” to which I was told the cheesecloth served two purposes – 1st it kept bugs and critters from climbing in that could contaminate the water and 2nd it purified the water of dirt and bacteria when it came out to fill our buckets. Instead of giving upon the pump at the deserted park of my youth, maybe all it needs is some cheese cloth and tender loving care.
We are similar to this pump. We are all beautiful and simple creatures initially. As we grow up and learn of new responsibilities and expectations we lose sight of the simplicity life has to offer. We let the world consume us and our insides turn to rust and become contaminated. We need to access our cheese cloth to filter out the garbage and prevent it from clogging our ability to live joyfully. We were created in God’s ~ “So God created mankind in his own Image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27 Keeping this in mind – Scripture is the cheese cloth in our lives – we should be reading, learning and memorizing it daily. Only then can we protect ourselves from Satan’s attacks and the sin surrounding us. With God…anything is possible!
I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
Praise be to you, LORD;
teach me your decrees.