John Messeder

Messeder

The legal description of the 50-acres of wooded shorefront my parents owned noted a huge boulder at one edge and a brook at the other. The watercourse was called Smelt Brook because every spring the smelt – anchovy-size minnows used mostly for bait to catch larger fish – would run into it to spawn.

Fisherfolk from town would show up, as well, and that’s the crux of this tale. They would bring their beer and build small campfires next to the creek, and be sociable. The smelt ran at night when kids my age were supposed to be in bed, so dad and his long-handled, fine-webbed smelting net attended the party alone.

John Messeder is an award-winning environmental columnist and social anthropologist, and lives in Gettysburg, PA. He may be contacted at john@johnmesseder.com.

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