Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Kid's Canal

Less than a mile from our home, practically right in town, is an irrigation canal that flows along a moderately busy street.  It is affectionately known as The Kid's Canal.  I suppose it's the oldest canal in the valley.  It is lined with trees, with grassy banks here and there.  Some years ago the City developed a nice paved walkway along much of it.  There are three bridges to funnel walking traffic back to the street side where private homes occupy the bank.  There is no side walk along the street side.  Hardly room for one as the bank plunges steeply into the stream from the curb.  So, its nice to have the walkway, for safety's sake.

My grandkids, Jeff, 8 and Megan 6, live right through my back gate and are getting old enough for some high adventure.  They both are accomplished swimmers and, with a membership, spend a lot of time at the Recreation Center.  It is a nice indoor facility with state of the art pools, exercise equipment and even a rock climbing wall.  This summer though, we've been spending our time at the Kid's canal.

One day they asked where I went swimming when I was a boy.  "In the canal," I told them.  That captured their imaginations, so we grabbed a couple of inner tubes and headed down there.  The stream averages two and half feet deep and is about 12 feet wide.  They loved sailing down the stream, sometimes capsizing and screaming as they surfaced from the cold, exhilarating water.  Well, kind of screaming, in that breathless sort of way you do, when the shock of cold hasn't quite relinquished it's grip on you.  Funny how it's not quite so bad the next time around and pretty quick you're in there for good, letting the cool refreshing liquid cancel the effects of a long hot summer day.

Last week while floating the canal we stumbled upon one of their five year old cousins fishing there with his grandpa.  Jaren had caught a nice one and was so proud to show it to us.  He was also fascinated with the prospect of sailing down the canal so Megan offered him a ride in exchange for a good look at his fish.  We two grandfathers exchanged contented glances, for it doesn't get any better than this.

Last year Megan's kindergarten class was visited by a representative of the Fish and Game department.  He brought some trout eggs and set them up in a tank in their room.  They watched the eggs hatch, become tiny fish and grow to about an inch in length.  They loved learning about Rainbow Trout.  At the end of the year they walked the quarter mile from the school to the canal and released them into the stream.  This captured their imaginations too.  Part of the charm of the Kids Canal is that it has long been reserved for the fishing pleasure of children.  They can fish there without a license, with a limit of one fish each per trip.  Jeff and Megan's Dad bought them a couple of nice, small, manageable poles and for a few of weeks now we've gone to the canal to just to fish.  The first time we got skunked.  My favorite lure in for fishing Jones Hole didn't get a single bite.
Then one day while swimming there we noticed a young fellow using a different lure.  He was quite successful.    So the next time we used that and Jeff caught two!  Megs, the competitive one, hasn't rested since.  So last night we went down after supper to fish.  She thought, though, that we should take a tube just in case the fish weren't biting.  I guess she wanted to make sure there was some consolation fun built into the excursion.

This time it was Megan's turn and she caught her first Rainbow Trout.  I'd like to capture her excitement and enthusiasm in a bottle.  It'd make me a fortune!  We floated and fished and floated some more.  When Jeff caught his fish last week he was content to Catch and Release; having no interest in eating such a thing and raising hopes of catching them again when they're bigger.  Not so with his sister.  She was intent on casting, tempting, hooking, landing, keeping, examining, adoring, surprising, showing off, photographing, cleaning, dissecting, filleting, seasoning, frying, eating and sharing hers!  Which she did with gusto!  She wanted the complete experience and relished every step of the process.  I couldn't help admiring her.  For her, her first fish must have the quintessential celebration, nothing less would do.  Do I enjoy life at that level?  Not normally.  But today I did.  Thanks to a six year old child whose sense of wonder and joy knows no bounds!

As I sit here remembering a sweet evening I can't express enough, my gratitude for a simple little canal so convenient and close, and for a community that loves its children and grandpas enough to make it safe and shady and stock it with fish and memories, summer after precious summer.


Utah Mom said...

The canals are so much fun. At our family get together last week we ended up kayaking on the canal behind the house instead of heading to the mountain.

Jeff and Megan are so cute and they are really growing up. I was hoping to see them while I was in Vernal but I got sick. :(

Framed said...

Great story. I'll think of it each time I drive by the canal.

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