Even in silence, relationships can grow. This I Believe. Worms swimming through my fingers. The boat rocking. I was right at home. Dad was casting off into the dark still water, both of us silent, listening to the forlorn call of a loon. I tried not to wince as I put the worm on the hook. Plop it went, when casted off; ripples grew in the deep jade waves. Not talking seemed all right. That was how it was most of the time for us. Today there wasn’t a single sound. It made life so clear and simple.
Reeling my line in, I thought about my father, and his grandfather, on a small Pennsylvania lake, learning all the tricks to lure fish in. All those rules and tips, now passed down to me, I realized. Bass was our favorite catch because they’re quick minded and tough to reel in. We usually stilled the boat near deeper, weedy areas of the lake. Of course there were the times of coming home in the dark and not a fish at hand. But fishing isn’t about bringing home mounds of food, it’s the experience of hovering above such a great expanse of water, and really feeling like you’re a part of it. Fishing is all about the silence.
A quick tug on my line reeled my attention back to fishing, I hated being cheated of a worm. As expected, my hook resurfaced empty, annoyance prickled within me. With another long cast off, I wondered who this thief might be. There were so many kinds, some with ornate flecks, shimmery stripes. Others with slick black scales, gleaming orange eyes. All those different fish, living in the same water. In a way, people can be just like fish. We go about our lives, choosing different paths and rivers to follow, and in the end, find ourselves where we belong.
I looked at my Dad now as the worm and hook sunk deeper into the shadows of the water. His brown eyes watched the spin of the currents under a baseball cap that was always there. In a T-Shirt and shorts, my father looked like himself, the relaxed and well-humored person he was. The skin on his face revealed hardly any age, but the scar under his chin showed childhood mischief. Funny how clear and sharp his face seemed to me on the water, as if someone had cleaned off the glass that I view my world through. A day of fishing was never complete without him there. On that rickety white rowboat, I learned more about my father than anywhere else.
We came home with nothing to grill. But I think we were okay with that. Something about the whole essence of fishing makes things not so bad when you step onto the dock afterwards. Turning around and gazing across the starry eyed water and dark mountains, my father concluded,” Good Fishing”, I smiled back in the velvety darkness,” Yah, good fishing”.