The young scallywags of Sheshurino and Nagovye would fish in a stream that linked Lake Nagovye with its forest tributaries. A pier with skinny little crossbeams, the junior contingent perched on the planks, bare legs dangling, and their elders standing at the rail, shelling sunflower seeds and spitting the hulls into the water. Inquisitive little ruffes would swim up to the odor of sunflower and circle around, grabbing onto the worm while they were there, drowning it for good and all, giving it a good gnawing, and then, to the fishermen’s great chagrin, sneaking away from the hook. Poles cut from a hazelnut tree, line swiped from dad or grandad, homemade floats, and rusty hooks were the sum total of the fishing tackle. They dumped the small fry in a shared bucket, while the neighborhood cats sat demurely, waiting for lunch.
A car pulled up at the pier. A height-challenged guy got out, reached into the gaping maw of his trunk, and started setting out on the road small cases, rod tubes, boxes, a folding chair, a little spirit stove, a tea kettle, a plastic table, and other odds and ends that gave off a delicious whiff of foreign lands. Open-mouthed, the scallywags watched as he put on a new pair of hip boots and a life vest the color of rotting greenery, and assembled his fishing rod. As section was mated to section, the rod opened out like a telescope, eventually reaching its maximum length. Then the guy started pulling out lures as shiny as ladies’ earrings, bait that looked disgusting but smelled great, floats, and, to top it all off, a sonar fish finder. The scallywags turned their backs on the bucket with its plashing fish to keep an eye on him.
“OK, you dimwitted rubes, see how fishing is done!” he said and flourished his rod. Its far end whooshed up and short-circuited an overhead power line, there was a cheerful crackle, and the little guy was knocked on his butt. The scallywags turned away and went back to throwing bread crumbs and spitting seed hulls into the water…
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Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.
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