Talk to children about their nightmares and they’re quick to respond. They’ll tell you about being frightened by dead animals, about getting lost and being left alone, or taken away by a strange person or abandoned – scary predicaments all. I myself remember one or another variation on these creepy themes. But I also recall another that would occur from time to time and may even have been mine alone.
No doubt it related to the fact that early on I just loved, while on vacation, to go fishing. I usually equipped myself with a long bamboo pole, attached a length of string at the top, then a hook, and I was ready. I’d always fish with worms, which I imagined fish considered an exceptional delicacy. I’d stand along the banks of a stream or fish from a lakeside dock, casting the string out as far as I could. My catch, when I was fortunate, largely consisted of sunfish, perch and an occasional small bass.
Now for the basis of my dreams: While standing patiently awaiting a nibble or better yet a bite, I’d imagine my line dangling under the water with the bait on display at the end. (I usually used a float which kept the line and the worm suspended in the water and which by bobbing up and down, alerted me to any “action” taking place below the surface.) I pictured fish swimming in the vicinity of my line observing this sudden intrusion into their midst. Which one, I wondered, would find the bait alluring enough to head over to where it swayed suspended? Many would, I imagined, be unimpressed and would keep their distance. There would be one, however, sufficiently attracted to the wriggly worm to swim over and take it in its mouth. What followed was turbulent thrashing, then a downward dive, followed by a torpedo-like thrust toward the surface. After several seconds the fish was gone, disappeared. Other fish in the area observing this abrupt departure undoubtedly considered themselves fortunate to have spurned that scrumptious worm.
My dream featured a neat reversal of what I’ve just described. I imagined myself alone in a field under a bright sky. Upon looking up I discovered some of my favorite foods (not candy, however) dangling within easy reach. I didn’t consider how they got there, just that I had this wonderful opportunity to select anything I wanted. (Strangely, only meats were involved.) There were lamb chops that I loved, hot dogs, steak, veal cutlets and other favorites. I would run over to one of them and grab it with both hands. Then it happened. I found myself being lifted up off the ground and toward the sky. I couldn’t let go – I’d been ensnared!
I never discovered who it was up there trolling for youngsters. That’s because I’d wake up shortly after lift-off.
The fish I caught always ended up flapping furiously on the dock or shore, then were tossed into a basket. Lucky for me, I just rolled over and was soon asleep once more.