Wednesday, July 23, 2014
"Hey son's" and hugs
(My Dad's birthday was Monday.  So I decided I would finish this story I'd started a couple of years ago....)

It was the last and only cold day of spring.  Temps had started out in the mid-60s that April morning, but a cold front had sent them plunging into the 50's by early afternoon.  Throw in a stiff wind and it was downright chilly.

Turning off the almost-two-lane country road, I saw him standing in the driveway in his fishing hat, straightening out some line.  There was something about that moment, seeing my dad already outside getting things ready, that made me smile, and does even now.

As I got out of the car I was greeted with that familiar, drawly "Heyyy, suh-uhn."

My sister was along with Nephew Bone soon and we headed down the long, hardly-one-lane dirt driveway and across a small field to the pond.  I took notice of Nephew Bone imitating Dad -- Peepaw as he calls him -- several times that day.  And imagined myself doing the same thirty years before.

We weren't long for fishing that day.  The weather was not our friend, and no one had dressed quite warm enough for it.  So after about an hour we packed up our poles and tackle and snacks and headed back to the house.

As I drove away that day I made the same promise to myself I always make,and break: to visit more often.

And I was thankful. 

Thankful that Dad was happy -- as happy as I can ever remember seeing him.  He seems to have found an ease and a contentment with life that wasn't there for far too long. 

Thankful I can still call him, to ask for advice about the house, or my Jeep, or just to hear that familiar "hey son" in a world that seems to go a little crazier every day. 

Thankful Nephew Bone gets to spend time he will remember with his Peepaw, and vice-versa. 

And thankful there's still a place I can go to, and even though I've never lived there, feel welcomed, and loved, and home. 

Dad and I had a couple of rough patches, as I suppose fathers and sons sometimes do.  But that seems like another lifetime now.  These days, I love you's have replaced simple goodbyes.  And we've long since traded hand shakes for hugs. 

That's a trade I'd recommend to anyone.

"I know I can't turn back time / We'll slow it down while we can / I'm going home to see him / While he still knows who I am..."

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Sunday, May 15, 2011
One fish, two one fish
Thursday afternoon, I went fishing at Dad's. As I think back on it, I'm reminded of some grand old country song lyrics from yesteryear. To paraphrase slightly, Bone's daddy was takin' him fishin' when he was (thirty-)eight years old...

It's the first time I'd been fishing in 15 or 20 years. The last, and only, time I fished with any regularity was back in high school. A group of us guys used to fish in a creek just below a dam by an old grist mill. I was pretty good at it. And by "it," I mean, getting my line hung up on the dam, having to cut it and losing the lure. They started calling me "Bait."

And since I don't believe in these fancy-schmancy technological fishing advances such as depth finders, or tackle boxes, I never had my own lures. Therefore, the many lures I lost belonged to someone else. So they started calling me other names, as well.

Anyway, back to Thursday. Allow me to preface this by saying I was never told what we would be fishing for, which I do believe is a pretty important component in determining what kind of bait or lure to use. Am I right? So drawing on all my previously forgotten fishing experience, I opted to go with the green lure. Everyone else was using live worms.

Well, by the time everyone else had caught multiple catfish before I had even caught one, it was clear that worms were the way to go. But I wasn't swayed. Because a great fisherman can catch fish even without the perfect bait. OK, I just made that up, but it sounded good.

Let me also proffer some advice to the ladies here. If a guy takes you fishing, you shouldn't catch a fish before he does. But if that can't be helped, then you really, really shouldn't catch three fish before he has even caught a single one. That could really put him in a sour mood the rest of the day, you know, if he's not as secure in his masculinity and fishing prowess as, say, me or Bill Dance.

Alright, back to my fish tale. Finally my persistence paid off as I hauled in about a half-pounder. Shortly after that, I decided to switch over to the white lure, but they just weren't hitting that at all. (Clearly, my instinct to go with the green over the white in the first place had been spot on.)

For me, fishing has never been just about how many fish you catch anyway. It's more about the atmosphere, the camaraderie, and of course, the snacking. Being outdoors, legs hanging off the pier, drinking a Sun Drop and munching on some barbecue fried pork skins--that's all I really need.

Besides, I've always been more of a caster than a quote, "fisher." I mean, anyone can drop a worm in a pond and catch a fish. But a perfect cast? The whir of the thingy unwinding, the unmistakable plop as the sinker hits the water, then the click of the other thingy. Sigh. There's nothing like it.

So all told for the day, I only lost one lure. Which I kind of equate with only losing one ball during a round of golf. Which I consider to be an excellent day. I only caught one fish, and threw it back. But again, that's perfectly fine with me. I think I speak for most fishermen when I say I don't really like having to touch the fish when I catch them.

It's kinda gross.

"You and me goin' fishin' in the dark. Lyin' on our backs and countin' the stars, where the cool grass grows..."

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