I believe that it’s all about fishing. Many of my fondest childhood memories revolve around hooks and waiting. I remember long drives to favorite fishing holes, seated in the front of the Chevy pickup with Papa on the left and Nanie on the right. She passed over pink mints, and I would suck them until they disappeared and remarkably another one would appear in her hand, offered to sweeten the wait. Nanie would stay in the car, listening to the car radio, preferring to crochet. We knew she loved our fishing adventures as much as we did. She never missed one.
Later, when I was in my teens, my grandparents managed a small fishing resort on the southern Oregon coast. Mid-morning when Papa’s duties were completed we would hop in a small skiff and troll for salmon in the ocean for most of the day. I don’t have a memory of catching one. I remember waiting for the big one, napping with my head rested on an old and damp orange life preserver. I can shut my eyes now, almost fifty years later and remember the smell of the bait and see Papa’s powerful weathered hands placing it carefully and skillfully on the hook. My heart longed to be just like Papa when I grew up.
Papa fished many years later with me in Alaska, when I moved here as a young adult. He built a wooden boat by hand, painted it with multiple layers of sky blue paint and brought it to Alaska. We launched the 14-foot long masterpiece into Gastineau Channel. Again, Nanie would wait on the shore, knitting king-size afghans, patiently hooking the bright colored yarns together. My son and daughter would play on the beach next to her and return to her side for pink mints from the endless supply.
Seven years ago my grandson was born and five years ago we began fishing together. The blue boat is no longer sea-worthy but we haven’t had a need to replace it. Mostly we are still dreaming about the big one we will catch someday. There are plenty of little fishing holes in the creeks. Many area docks provide a perfect platform to stand on while we drop the hook to the bottom and wait. Someday we will go after the whoppers we see in Field and Stream magazine, trolling in that cruiser that we buy with the pennies we patiently save in the yellow and white yogurt container. He tells me stories while we sit on a large rock near a stream or stand on the weathered dock. I listen and get to know my grandson and myself better while we wait. Once in a while the line will move a little. Hearts beat a little faster. We hold our breath and hope for a fish. Occasionally we will pull up a little something and after he hollers and boasts a bit and grabs a pink mint, we return to fishing. It’s the time between the baiting of the hooks that matters most.
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