The dial tone of the phone is an intermittent beep that tells me there’s a message to be retrieved. It has been several days since I called the mystery number and left a message to report the discovery of Fat Louie’s waterlogged missive. I had pretty much given up on the hope of hearing the rest of the story when I received a message of my own. Lindsey and Nikky, Fat Louie’s friends, had gotten my message and were just as excited as I was that their bottle had been found!
The bottle had been in the lake for 11 days and travelled a distance that would take approximately 40 minutes to drive. I’m not sure how far that would be along the shoreline. Delighted squeals punctuated our conversation as we talked about Fat Louie, fishing (Nikky told me she’d never been fishing before) and the lonely wild beach the bottle had washed up on. The girls, one from Michigan and the other from Alberta, are cottaging on Lake Erie and they are having the time of their lives. We all agreed that it was like "magic" the bottle had made it safe to shore and was actually found by someone. I don’t know if there’s anything more infectious than the laugh of an 11 year old girl as she talks about a fish named Fat Louie.
The absolute joy and innocence of the whole thing creates an image in my mind of summer days that seemed endless, full of sand,sun, laughter and joy. There were cold fried chicken picnics on the beach. The smell of worms and oil and fish mixed, not unpleasantly, in the bottom of the boat. There was fish for breakfast; less than an hour before they’d been swimming in the lake and now they were frying up in a pan over an open fire. There were campfires with burnt hot dogs that fell off the stick into the fire and gooey flaming marshmallows that would somehow end up in someone’s hair (I didn’t care). You would wake up in the morning still wearing your bathing suit because you were so tired that you’d fallen asleep and had to be carried to bed.
Lindsey and Nikky, thanks for the memories. Long may you run.