What could be lovelier in the verdant Delaware forest than a small, secluded, shady fishing nook? We eagerly followed the directions of the enthusiastic Tourist Officer and presto—we were there. Hidden Lake! We parked up near the highway and, laden with fishing gear and other picnic paraphernalia, we went down the slippery slope.
Hidden Lake was not quite hidden. On the bank, close to the water’s edge stood a wooden kitchen table guarded by a very zealous and noisy police dog. On the table, a portable stove was frying a pork chop. How do I know?
I know only because the rotund, elderly woman with straggly waist-long gray hair explained to her mate repeatedly that she used to have a pork chop whenever she went swimming here and she’d loved it. Now that she couldn’t swim anymore, she would still have her pork chop! He listened sympathetically. He was fully dressed; she wore a vintage black bathing suit from not a good year.
I don’t fish. My job on these outings is to psychically encourage the fish to go for my grandchildren’s bait. Laden with our equipment and a plentiful supply of worms — we made our way down the grassy bank at a good distance from the others. The pork chop lady eyed us hostilely: 3 adults, 2 kids and fishing gear. Their dog barked and guarded the pork chop zealously for his mistress.
Watching us unashamedly, she mourned pork chops of the past. We settled onto the grass, sorted our belongings, squirted mosquito repellant. Then my son carefully baited the hooks, gave each fisherman a rod and they cast.
At that very critical moment, there were new arrivals. A neat elderly Japanese gentleman came bounding down the hill followed by his small dog. The pair briskly walked along the waterfront. When approaching the anglers, the newcomer paused, looked up at their rods and said, “Is necessary to put a worm on the hook.” My son, ever polite, acknowledged his wisdom with a nod to the stranger.
He signaled to his dog and they moved on. A few minutes later they came back; he paused, looked up at the rods and again gravely and exactly repeated his sage advice. “Is necessary to put worm on the hook.” His dog barked in affirmation and they walked on.
On their return, he stopped yet a third time and delivered his message again in his oracular tone, “Is necessary to put worm on the hook.” Off he went.
“Let’s go,” my son said, and no further word was necessary in this usually contentious crowd. The vote was unanimous “Hidden Lake” had best remain hidden.