Here’s a story about not wishing away time but savoring every moment.

Wind driven snow twisted like smoky ropes across the snow-covered lake tangling Josh’s legs. His toes had finally stopped hurting. Now, they felt like carp mouth – the way his mouth felt when he got a shot at the dentist. His fingers weren’t numb yet. They still tingled and burned with cold. C’mon fish, give me a little nibble, he wished. Make all this pain worthwhile. The tiny pink bobber floated, unmoving, in the six inch hole in the ice.

“Daaad,” Josh called. “I’m cold. I’m bored. Let’s go home.”

“Last night you couldn’t wait to get out here. Now you can’t wait to get back. Get into Grandpa time.”

“Grandpa time,” Josh grumbled. A year ago, a week before Christmas, when his grandfather was dying, Josh had mentioned to his father, “I can’t wait for Christmas. I wish it were here right now.”

“Put yourself in Grandpa’s place,” his father had said. “Stuck in bed. Hanging on, day by day. What would he give to live a week as a ten year old, to be able to play, to run, to breathe easily? Don’t wish away time, son.”

Josh jigged his rod up and down. Something pulled. He tugged. Nothing. Hand over hand, he pulled his line onto the ice till his tear-drop hook appeared in the hole. Seaweed. He had hooked into a weed. Shoot, he thought. Now I have to take off my gloves, get all cold, just to put on more bait and it wasn’t even a nibble.

Grandpa time. What would Grandpa do if he were here?

Notice. Watch for small things. Use his imagination.

Josh stared at the pearly-pink tear-drop lure, the gold hook, the bright green leaf. A Christmas ornament of colors. It was winter all around him – white, cold, gray. Yet from the bottom of this black, wet hole came green – spring green.

What would it be like down there, Grandpa? How would I look to a fish through the ice hole? Would I look all small and round and far away, the way people look through a peep hole in a door? Is that why it’s called a ‘fish eye’?

What if I were a fish in a frozen lake, hanging out in a weedbed with a school of bluegills? It’s probably dark down there, or at least gloomy. The ice must be like a glass ceiling, frosted glass, with snow on top. Dark, light. Dark, light. Someone turns off the light every night. And every so often, there are footsteps, followed by loud, scraping sounds, circling sounds. Light pours in through a round hole. Then food floats down – wax worms, mousies, spikes, sometimes minnows. Some of the food dances up and down, like it was on a string. Other food hangs very still, tempting snacks. Every once in a while a fish zooms up into the light.What if you could talk to the other fish? What would you say about disappearing buddies?

A door slammed Josh out of his day dreams. He turned to see a man stretching his back outside his shanty. 

“Any luck?” Josh called.

“Nope. Saw a big pike, but I missed him.”

“Can I come inside, see what it’s like?”

“Sure. C’mon in. Warm yourself up.”

It took a minute for Josh’s eyes to adjust to the light. Then he made out a hole in the ice, a big square of water like a television set lying on the floor tuned to a seaweed movie. The fisherman held a spear, five wickedly sharp blue points on the end of a yellow broom handle, waiting for a pike to come on the screen.

Josh’s toes fizzed with warmth. His father called.

“An eagle, Josh. There’s an eagle.”

Josh stumbled outside. The sun had come out, glaring off the snow, blinding him momentarily. A bird yelped high above, gliding in soft circles.

“A bald eagle,” his dad explained. “Someone said there was a nest nearby.”

“Wow, that’s the first time I ever saw a live eagle.” The wind stopped. Josh could feel his toes again. He unzipped his snowmobile suit, took off his gloves. “Wow,” he said again, as he watched the silhouette swoop behind a stand of pines.

He checked his bait. Still there, untouched. Nobody home.

“Looks like we got skunked, son.” Josh’s dad reeled in his line. “What do you say we head out?”

Josh looked up, his face registering disappointment. “Do we have to? I was just starting to have a good time.”