So here’s the thing about life out here in the summertime – there are traditions, things we must do, activities that come with the green grass and blue sky territory that scream sunburn and bug bites and dirty feet, sweat and beer in a cozies, sunflower seeds and grab some lawn chairs, load up in the pickup and let’s go.

Quick, before we change our minds.

Quick, before the clouds roll in.

Quick, before the fish stop biting.

Last weekend, I found my husband down on his knees in the grass beside our driveway. It was early afternoon, and we had been outside organizing the garage and making landscaping plans that involved loading leftover construction materials into the back of the old pickup and hauling it all off to the dump, a job we were sick of and one that found us easily distracted by old cocoons, giant spiders and all the worms living in cool, wet dirt we unearthed on our Sunday chore.

“Go get a coffee can or something Jess, look at all these worms,” said the grown man I married, hunched over with a stick in his hand collecting bait for a future fishing trip.

So I obliged of course, quickly allowing myself to picture us sitting on the banks of the Little Missouri, swatting horse flies, spitting seeds and casting out a line into the water with a hope of catching a catfish or two.

This, I thought, sounded so much better than another trip to the dump.

I knelt down next to the man digging in the dirt, and for a good half hour or so I dug with him, and we were like two little kids excited at the find, flipping over more boards, digging deeper and further and all around, getting wrapped up in the job of it.

I told him this is what I’d do as a kid when a rainy day came our way and dad decided the work could wait.

“Go dig us some worms. If we find enough, we’ll go fishing,” he’d say. So I’d head to the spot below the garden with my little sister, determined to unearth a pile of bait while dad finished up his chores.

But we never completed that job ourselves, my little sister and I. No. Dad wanted to go fishing more than both of us combined and in five minutes or so he’d be down there beside us wielding a big shovel and speeding up the process so we could get going.

To the river that cut deep banks into the badlands where we’d wrap those worms on a hook, throw out the line, stick our rods in the cool clay and watch the tip for a bend or a twitch, something that said we could reel in with the hope that this time it wasn’t a twig.

That current can be a tricky thing.

I told my husband this story, and he told me about fishing on the small creek that wound through town where he would catch nothing but bullheads, and we looked at each other and said, “Well, should we go fishing then?”

And it wasn’t three minutes before my cowboy turned into a cargo-short clad fisherman, complete with man sandals and an old trusty tackle box we raided from dad’s garage.

I filled our small cooler with a couple beers, grabbed the sunflower seeds and the matching red camp chairs we bought at Tractor Supply last winter with the hope of making use of them in a moment like this, and we drove with open windows down to the river where he caught one little catfish and I caught three tree branches.

In my life, I have never planned a river fishing trip. In my life, I have never cast a store-bought night crawler into that river below the house. In my life, there are things that I do knowing they are simply sunburn and bug bites and dirty feet, sweat and beer in cozies, sunflower seeds and getting away because there is the truck, and there is the road, and, well look here, we found some worms.

Quick, before we change our minds.

Quick, before the clouds roll in.

Quick, before the fish stop biting.

Jessie Veeder is a musician and writer living with her husband on a ranch near Watford City, N.D. Readers can reach her at

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live
Newsletter signup for email alerts