It must be Bread Bag Time!!
As I woke up to another snowfall this morning I am thinking of the promise of spring, and for me, that always, always meant Bread Bag Time…
I twist the bread bag closing it tightly, as I carefully avoid squashing the leftover ends of the loaf. I tuck it into a corner of the freezer, pleased that I will be ready to feed the ducks on a future visit to the park. For a moment I picture a bright, sunny afternoon by the edges of a pond, as ducks scurry to grab a piece of bread I toss their way. By my side is Dusty, my little dog, balancing on his hind legs as he watches them from a safe distance. His instinctive reaction is to raise himself higher so he can assess the situation and satisfy his cautious curiosity while wondering,
“Is that something I should explore? Should I run towards it or away from it? Will it play with me?” I can almost hear him thinking these thoughts.
I smile and sigh as I file the picture of Dusty and the ducks into the pages of my mind, just as I tucked the bread bag into its corner in the freezer. One spring day I will unearth both of them, because if it’s spring it must be bread bag time. Yes, if it is spring, I can close my eyes and I can feel a bread bag flopping by the side of my legs as I skip along the banks of a stream. I can hear the water gurgling around the rocks and fallen branches. I can smell the muddy areas hiding under last fall’s leaves, waiting for me to slip and slide in their musty depths. Yes, if it is spring, I can travel back in time to bread bag time with my Dad, when we would scout the stream for the best place to fish on the opening day of trout fishing season.
Every year Dad would grab the bags of leftover bread scraps from the freezer and we’d go for a walk by the stream that flowed through and around our small town. The local fish and game unit stocked the stream with new trout every year before the start of the fishing season. Dad said he could predict where the greater numbers of trout would gather by taking his family for a fish walk. My sister and I eagerly followed my Dad with our prized bread bags clutched in our hands. It didn’t matter to us where we were going, as long as we could swing our bags around, toss in a few crumbs to find the fish, and watch them break the surface of the water to grab the tasty treats.
It was Spring and it was bread bag time!
Sometimes I would forget and I would break off a large clump of bread instead of the tiny pieces Dad instructed us to throw. The clump would float along, a fish might pop up to nibble at it but the clump didn’t disappear like the tiny pieces did. The fish were hungry but they didn’t mistake a large clump of bread for a water bug. They might be curious and want to see what it was, but they would find out that it didn’t bounce on the water like the tiny pieces did. I learned that fish were cautious about something new and different.
Looking back, I remember placing my feet as close to the stream bank as possible so I could throw the crumbs to entice the fish. Sometimes I stood on my tiptoes to increase the reach of my throw. My sister often ventured out on a small rock or a fallen log so she could make her toss. I remember I tried to follow her one-year as she hopped across to a small patch of ground in the middle of the stream. Instead of landing safely I slid down plopping noisily into the water, and frightening the fish away. This resulted in smelly, squishy sneakers for the remainder of the fish walk. I learned that rushing along without thinking didn’t necessarily bring about the best results!
As I grew older, I realized that the fish walk didn’t actually determine Dad’s choice of where he would fish on opening day. In fact, Dad usually fished in the same spot each year. When I asked him why he had taken us on an annual fish walk if he intended on returning to the same spot he merely replied,
“I liked watching your excitement as you were throwing in the crumbs. Every time a fish popped to the surface of the water you both thought you had won a prize.”
As I look forward to the coming Spring I invite you to join me in getting ready for the bread bag ritual. May it be a reminder to look for new ideas or approaches to what is happening in our lives. Perhaps you are facing a career change, or a move to a new place. Perhaps you are experiencing a transition in your life with children, parents, your spouse, or with a new challenge. Perhaps you will discover an opportunity to explore ways to serve others, or how to develop a new or older friendship.
Lets take out those bread bags that we have saved and tucked away so carefully. Maybe we’ve pushed a few hopes and wishes into a corner, but the new days of Spring might help us to test the waters once again. We can toss a few crumbs onto the surface, and we can attempt to gain a better understanding of what will happen. Sometimes we might be like a clump of bread not seen for who or what we truly are, sometimes we might fall down before we even have a chance to toss in our ideas, or we might make an overwhelming splash and lose the chance to make a difference. Fortunately, we all have the opportunity to renew ourselves, our relationships and our reactions to each new phase of life. Springtime comes; we all can dig out our bread bags, we can hope for a few prizes to pop to the surface of our everyday walks, and we can find the excitement we have to give to others as a response to what life brings to us.
Ah spring, and the simple ritual of the bread bag. I look forward to my upcoming days with Dusty at the park. I imagine we will take a walk, we will stop and I will throw some bread to the ducks at the water’s edge. Dusty will rise up on his hind legs, eagerly walking closer while trying to determine what he should do next. I’ll be waiting for the prizes to pop, as the bread bag flops against my leg, walking along the water’s edge.