How did that get there?


A few weeks ago, there was a lull in the action out in the fish house, so I decided to clean things out a bit. Anyone who has spent any time in a fish house knows there can be lulls. Some last longer than others.

Our fish house, also known as Eric’s man-fort these days, has a few built-in cupboards and overhead compartments. It’s actually quite surprising how much stuff we had managed to gather out there. The fact that we pull it off the lake and stuff it behind the garage in the spring, then toss a bunch of items we had tossed in the camper the previous fall doesn’t help.

In fact, I have learned that even fake ducks have a migratory pattern, as Eric’s decoys manage to migrate between the camper and the fish house and back each year. The poor things have no permanent home, just smelly bags they travel back and forth in.

Anyway (my thoughts migrated there for a minute, sorry) I was cleaning out the fish house, and Eric got bored enough to get in on the action. We dug up a few garbage bags, because, seriously, there are a couple of almost everything in the fish house, and got to work.

I found enough decks of cards to host a large poker tournament. Granted, one deck had the Incredible Hulk on the back, and one deck had pictures of scantily clad women on each card (I raised an eyebrow and he just looked baffled that such a thing even existed) but most of them were intact and ready to use. There was also a set of poker chips, a cribbage board (not including the fish-shaped one engraved into the table) and a few other travel games. Those all went into a pile we dubbed “Entertainment.” With the exception of one of the decks of cards that went into the trash. I’ll let you guess which one.

I found several pots and pans, enough plastic knives and spoons to serve a meal to Rhode Island as long as forks weren’t needed, and a couple dozen Styrofoam bowls. The cookstove needed to make anything in the pots and pans wasn’t in the fish house, which I found somewhat funny, and there weren’t any spatulas or cooking utensils. Given the amount of spatulas there are in my life, that part is rather humorous.

I narrowed the pot and pan selection down to just two frying pans and one pot, mostly used to bail water out of a hole and into a bucket for when we catch fish (notice I didn’t say if? I like to think positive about fish). I left the plastic knives, because lately my cooking in the fish house has been limited to making sandwiches and I have to have something to spread the butter with. The spoons stayed also, because they happened to be in the same bag and I don’t believe in breaking up plasticware families.

The fishing equipment got segregated into three different places. One overhead compartment holds the stuff he needs every now and then, one open compartment holds the stuff we grab all the time while we’re in there, and one spot under the table is where we piled the weeds. He doesn’t use the weeds every time, and when he does, they come out wet and cold, so they need to get tucked away.

Our fish house now has a refrigerator area (the cold spot under a bench), the kitchen cupboard, the pan cupboard, the garage area (that’s where the hammer and some other tools hang out), the entertainment cupboard, the tackle spot, the bedroom (that’s where I tucked the blanket, the cot and the little pillows in case we ever spend the night in there again), and, very importantly, the spot where you put your cell phone so it doesn’t fall down a hole.

So far we’ve done pretty well about keeping everything sort of mostly in its place. We filled a large garbage bag full of really old poptarts, half-empty bags of chips, empty packaging from lures and line and all things tackle, and other things of that nature. We also filled several bags with stuff that just needed to be returned to the house. A gaggle of coffee cups, extra hats, mittens and gloves, tools, kitchen items — you name it, there was probably one in there.

Often, as we sorted through the cupboards, Eric would say, “How the heck did that get in here?” It’s is hard to say. People come and go out of the fish house with startling regularity, things got left behind. Something got shoved in a cupboard and forgotten when we were packing up. Or fell behind something else and got missed during a quick clean-up.

For now, it’s about as clean and shiny as it’s going to get. Eric mentioned that the carpeting could use a vacuuming and looked at me speculatively, but I didn’t fall for it. If he wants his man-fort vacuumed, he’ll have to wait until summer and do it in the driveway or bribe me with something really good. Like a nice day trip in his floating fort — his boat. Which he’ll probably ask me to vacuum, too. After all, I did it last year.