Last week, I was doing a little hiking in the state park near my house. Since I was just snow trekking and picture-taking, I was in some of the park’s open fields adjacent to the lake, a spot usually populated by a coterie of picnickers, dog walkers, kids playing ball. Being early March, there was no one in the fields. The picnic tables were mute, acting as snow-covered, four-legged guardians of the stillness. The trees also stood silent, their leafless limbs wagging in the wind. It was peaceful.
As I approached the shoreline, I got a better look at some of the folks fishing out on the lake ice. My father went ice fishing when he was younger; it was even more solitary than fishing at other times of the year, he told me. I heard one of the fisherman talking – rather loudly, in fact. At first, I thought he was calling to a nearby buddy, but then I realized: he’s sitting there talking on a cell phone! I guess he had to raise his voice to compete with the wind.
I wasn’t close enough to hear what he was saying; I don’t think he was calling for help or anything serious. Maybe he was just telling his wife when he’d be home. Then again, maybe he was just talking about nothing.
I’ve seen cell phones being used in some unusual places – including public bathrooms – but that was the first time I’d seen one being used by an ice fisherman. I had to smile, thinking about what my father might say – probably that the guy wouldn’t catch anything because his damn babbling scared the fish away. Is no place still sacred?