I witnessed something wonderful on my walk today.
We went down to the park, where the lake drains under a footbridge into a stone-lined gully that someone generous might call a creek. Usually it’s a trickle at best, but it poured last night, and the water was still moving pretty briskly.
As we got closer, I heard kids yelling, so we went over to have a look. I was nervous, because earlier this summer we’d seen a mother cat and her kittens hanging out a few times in the (then bone dry) spillway. We hadn’t seen them in over a month, but I didn’t want to think of them being there when the water started coming down.
Instead, when I looked over the side of the bridge, I saw a skinny kid (maybe 8-10 years old) carrying an enormous catfish clasped in both arms.
The catfish had to be the length of this kid’s torso, and it was flopping around trying to escape, but the kid doggedly kept climbing over mud and slippery rocks until he reached the lake and chucked the fish in. And behind him came… another kid, holding a fish.
When the lake flooded, it must’ve washed a bunch of these catfish downstream, where they collected in pools. Now the water levels are starting to go down, and the fish are trapped, doomed to dry up and die. Not on these kids’ watch. As we watched, they rescued four fish, and one of the adults present said there were at least six left. The kids showed no sign of stopping. This is the kind of thing you love as a kid, a life or death mission you can throw your heart and soul into while getting gleefully covered in muck and slime. I was tempted to offer my assistance, but this was their Quest, and I did not want to impose.
When we continued on, the Great Fish Rescue was still going strong. Godspeed, kids. In a time of such great discord and meanspirited behavior, you will live on in my memory as a beacon of goodwill.