“Aren’t you scared? I could never do that.”

“How do you know if it is thick enough?”

“Won’t you freeze to death?”

Those were some of the reactions that I got from my family and friends, both in person and via social media when I excitedly boasted about my plans.

Truth to tell, I had asked myself those same questions. I knew I’d be cold but I really didn’t know if it would be thick enough. Sometimes you just have to trust.

It was Mark Twain who wrote, “Twenty years from now you’ll be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do,” and since I’ll be 80 then, I’d better be doing those things now.

And so it was that last Sunday afternoon I trusted my friend and walked out on an ice-covered pond into an ice fishing shanty.

I’d always wanted to ice fish and had been invited several times to go out on Lake Erie, but that seemed like a very big commitment. This, however, was only a mile and a half from my house and I knew I could walk to their bathroom, should the need arise. I don’t think that’s how it works on Lake Erie.

It worked beautifully on Klusty Pond on that sunny and very brisk Sunday afternoon and I loved every single minute of it.

Our shanty was much like a tent, with a little kerosene heater in the corner and built-in seats. My friend’s husband had packed snow around the edges to keep the wind out and drilled three holes in the ice, one for each of us.

When I finally stopped complimenting him on how cute the little ice fishing poles were and how they coordinated so well with the bobbers, I actually quit talking and started to just be in the moment. I started to simply listen.

In silence, the three of us sat there, watching our bobbers in the watery holes that varied in shades of green. His was an eerie Day-Glo green, as the sun illuminated it through the ice.

The silence was broken only by random bird calls, the wind whipping against the shanty and me pronouncing his the prettiest of the fishing holes.

Almost four hours later, we called it a day. All the fish we caught were thrown back, their little tummies full of minnows, with scary stories to tell their fish friends. Like the one David caught before his wife and I got out there.

It was bigger than normal, he said, so he went to the house to get some sort of fish ruler to measure it. When he got back, the fish was gone. Apparently, it had flopped its way across the shanty and right back into the first and only hole he had drilled thus far.

As the sun was setting behind the pines, I smiled ear to ear as we carried the gear across the ice that never broke, truly thankful for a glorious opportunity to be off the couch and out in the wild. Well, as wild as Medina County can be.

Once back in the house we warmed up with a shot of Jameson and a chaser of pickle juice, another first for me and mighty delicious, I need to add.

One week later, I’m still marveling at the whole experience and looking at the pictures makes me smile.

I had decided on New Year's Day that this would be my year of doing.

I resolved that, in 2019, I am going to do all the things I have said I was going to do, even if it’s just going to lunch with that friend to whom I always say “Let’s get together for lunch," but then never do.

I’ve also decided to remember that fear is a liar. Somewhere along the way, I had forgotten that.

It was 10 years ago that I spent a week on an Indian reservation in South Dakota, alone. Not by choice, mind you. My family didn’t want to go and neither did my sister when she found out there was no running water or electricity in the cabin.

However, I knew it would be a trip of a lifetime, and it was. From riding horseback through hills dotted with buffalo, to camping in the Bighorn Mountains and Badlands, my Lakota host provided memories that I still relive.

I would never have experienced a sun dance or a sweat lodge, had I listened to well-meaning friends and family who thought the whole thing “too dangerous.”

“You don’t even know him. You’re letting a complete stranger pick you up at the airport?”

“You’re going to get a rental car, right?”

‘No, I’m not getting a rental car. Why would I spend another $400 for a car that will just sit for a week?’

My friend shook her head, disgusted by my blatant sense of adventure and caution-to-the-wind attitude.

I hope to make more people shake their heads in the year and years to come. Like in June, when I plan on joining a woman I have yet to meet, who started hiking the Appalachian Trail when she turned 50. We’ve been talking about getting together for coffee. I expect that to happen in the next week or two.

In a poem titled "The Summer Day," Mary Oliver, who passed away Jan. 17, asks a very important question:

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

I ask you the same question, my friend. Don’t let fear keep you on the couch. Twenty years will be gone before you know it.

 

Contact Robin Swoboda at Robinswoboda@outlook.com.