My first quasi-date with Honeydew was in December 2007 – he came up to Hillhouse, “to see Brother Dear,” and invited us to go out ice fishin’ with him on Duck Lake, just across the street from our place.

Honeydew swears we first met at the local watering hole in the summers before 2007, and that I was icily rude to him.  I think we met for the first time at a going-away-party for Brother Dear in August 2007, during which I found Honeydew hilarious, intriguing, and very, very tall.  And during which time I remember being charming, of course.

At any rate, when Honeydew dropped by to ask about ice fishing, Brother Dear and I both said yes, and then I actually went and took a shower and put on mascara – two actions wholly unnecessary for ice fishing, wherein you are bundled in every layer you own that will fit under your snow pants and down jacket, crammed into a small, black space with your companion, staring intently down a hole drilled in the ice to accommodate your lure, and generally drinking copious amounts of cheap beer.  The beer is really what makes ice fishing entertaining, I’m not going to lie.

Here is the first picture of Honeydew and I that I know of – Brother Dear took it on this ice fishing expedition:

Of course, I did not know on that afternoon I passed ice fishin’ with Honeydew that I would one day marry him and learn all about ice fishin’, the highs, the lows, the gear, the tournaments, the prizes won, the prizes lost from the back of pickups, the pickups that crash through the ice, the hearts broken in the cave like ice houses.  Turns out that there are many members of Honeydew’s family who like to ice fish.

This weekend was the Ice Fishing Derby at Duck Lake, sponsored by the Babb Volunteer Fire Department.  Honeydew’s mom, her husband & his daughter and his brother, niece, and nephew came up to Hillhouse for the weekend, joined on Saturday by his sister, brother-in-law, and niece, who live just a few miles from here.  Here are some shots from the Sunday portion of the tourney:

Looking east onto Duck Lake – there are little clusters of pickups and ice houses all over the lake, but especially near the shores.  On the subject of driving pickups onto frozen lakes: the science of the ice and the weight that even 4 inches of ice can support has been explained to me on a number of occasions.  I understand it, logically.  But you would no more catch me driving my beloved chariot onto a frozen lake than you would catch me putting sugar on my grits.  It just ain’t right.  Walking along, taking pictures, I came across this crack in the ice and nearly had a heart attack, despite the fact that I know when the ice cracks and sings its spooky songs, it’s actually freezing harder and becoming stronger.  My heart and my head aren’t always the best team:

People arrive at the tourney in pickups, on 4 wheelers, and on foot, as we did:

Emily and Taylor walking across Duck Lake

my mother-in-law and her dog

As with most sports, The Gear is a big part of ice fishin’.  Our group had two ATVs to zip around the lake and back to Hillhouse on, but Jason and Kara Reid had this fabulous toy, which I have a serious crush on.  A John Deer dune buggy?  Sign me up!

And then there are the ice houses themselves, some of which are so low to the lake you can barely sit up in them.  Some, like Brother Dear and Honeydew’s, are made out of the sleeper cabs off of 18 wheelers, and are very sturdy and windproof.  Others are lighter and easy to haul from tournament to tournament.  Here are Travis and Walt’s:

And some are so cool they make me want to take up ice fishing as more than a spectator sport – this is Tony-from-Hawaii’s:

Tony got it off of Craig’s List.  Can you see the Hawaii license plate at the top?   That, combined with the Stars & Stripes and the fact that “Budweiser” is woefully misspelled makes it the perfect ice house, in every way.  I asked Tony why he didn’t ask me to go ice fishing with him before I met Honeydew … but he said he’d never loved a woman enough to take her fishing.  So I guess I’ll just have to go back to appreciating how lucky I am!  And trying to see if I can wrangle a right-of-first-refusal on that ice house from Tony … it was a high point of the tournament, for me!

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