No timeline, no hurry for the fisherman on the accommodating Antietam River
A little sunblock and a bottle of mosquito repellent would be enough for those taking to Antietam Creek for a free-from-timelines float, from just west of Keedysville to the bridge on Harpers Ferry Road.
Leisurely. Wildlife. Cool shade.
Just like the old days when the summer meant unplanned freedom from school and spur-of-the-moment fun that can rarely be found in these texting, emails sent and received and phone- call-a-minute times.
After the closing of June with its many hours of daylight, the Antietam hasn’t succumbed to any lack of rain and is flowing along like a through-the-pastures-and-woods creek should.
It’s generally clear and deep enough to avoid scratching along the bottom. Paddling a canoe is less than a chore, and the holes where bass, catfish, pumpkin seeds and even eels gather are numerous enough to provide some easy fishing for those who use the catch-and-release rules of the road.
Some of the paddlers just keep focused on possible submerged logs or snags that might jostle an unsuspecting fourth-grade age fisherman.
Those same paddlers will be treated with surprise sights supplied by the in-resident deer, an owl or two, raptors perched along the tree-lined banks, scurrying groundhogs and noisy crows not welcoming the boaters to their rural retreats.
Canadian geese don’t want to share their down-covered broods. Songbirds chant a staccato of words only they understand. One of the would-be fish catchers says they caught a fleeting glimpse of what could have been a fox.
Those four-legged behemoths of mostly white hides and irregular black blotches weren’t wildlife at all, but grazing dairy cows munching on grass and chewing their cuds, while winging their tails at ornery flies.
A shady spot along the creek that hasn’t been infested with nettles, thistles, too much milkweed or thickets of no-name weeds provides a temporary oasis to be used to eat lunch.
Infused with a modicum of energy provided by the sandwich-based lunch, and the journey is joined again.
Soon enough, the meandering Harpers Ferry Road can be seen off to the left of the still-welcoming creek. The fishermen/paddlers row to the bank and bring their canoes to waiting trucks.
Secure in the knowledge that the modern technology age hasn’t completely gripped the attention and caring of the world, the outdoorsmen-for-a-day have eluded the thunder of sunburn and the itching of mosquito bites and can ramble on about doing the same thing next month or (more probably) next year on the Antietam Creek.
The iPhones have finished a dismal second to in-the-sun fun. Facebook has lost face, if only for just a moment.
Stone bridges with piers built in the early 1800s have claimed the attention of those who have little in common with Civil War buffs. Slight-drop waterfalls have drawn nine-year-olds to their never-tiring duties.
And the stream has made friends again after missing the fishermen’s faces for many moons.