Lakeside Lessons

by Timothy

We'd wake up in the morning at the barest hinting of light filtering in through the window. A groggy, half-asleep morning would ensue trying to remember how to put on shoes and swallow cereal. This was how my fishing trips always started as a young boy. A late night of getting ready followed by an early morning of putting together the last pieces of the trip ahead of us. After breakfast, my head would begin to fill with all the questions fishermen ask themselves.

"What would we catch? Would we catch? Where? How?"

Slowly, the stupor would be replaced with excitement that would grow with each bump in the road.
The lake was a pristine jewel sitting high in the Rocky Mountains boasting healthy and plentiful rainbow trout populations. Ringed all-around with steep slopes and thick, green foliage, it was one of the only areas relatively untouched by the wrath of pine beetles that continue to ravage the pine tree forests.

This place was magic to the free-ranging adventurer in me. I would walk off and shake scuds from a mop of weeds and throw them out to cruising trout as if I was throwing a dinner party for all my aquatic friends. Bored with that, I began climbing the steep hills with rope that became my lifeline and sticks that became my snow axes, burying them in sand to pull myself upon footholds I dug out of the mountains. 

After my journey, I'd look down at the stoic position of my father that he always assumed. Back straight, arms crossed. Focused. Taking a moments reprieve would inevitably lead me to look out across the watery distance. Frozen in the eye of the basilisk, the lake inspired within me stories of self-awareness and reliance. I felt as if Robinson Crusoe, looking upon his island paradise and contemplating the treasures and horrors it would hold. Wallowing in the feel of the wild was one of the greatest moments on these trips, the other was catching a fish.

Upon the return to my father, I was always greeted with stories of fish he had already caught and it never ceased to light a fire in my little frame.

I had to catch one too. 

Mustering up all the skills I had, I'd spear a worm on a number six barbed hook, spin on a bobber, cast, sit, and wait. Somewhere along the lines, my parents had been able to instill the fisherman's patience within me. I'd go the way of my father. Silent, brooding, focused. Ordinarily, not much was said between us on these trips. That is, of course, because there was not much to be said in the way of discourse while caught in the connection of rod, life, and line.

Daydreaming in this state came naturally. The warm sun and gentle breeze permeated my skin. The lullaby of water lulled me into a trance. Still however, the reflection of the bright red bobber bounced off my pupil as I waited for a fish. I knew they would come. The distance was just right, the depth of the bait dangled in their nose, and my line was tight just like my father taught me to do for a firm hook set.

The lone, red bobber danced on miniature waves and would periodically be submerged by the rolling water. The muscles in my arm tensed with every out of place jolt.

It's under!

Lightning quick, I snatch out the rod from its bed on the shore reeds and reel up the slack in the line. A snap of my wrists buries the hook in the fishes cavernous maw and it's fish on. Even during this moment, the atmosphere of introspection was not over. My blood pulsed quicker and the prospect of landing the fish comes forefront to the mind.

Lift, reel, lift, reel the cadence of muscle memory ensured the fish was mine.
Gently holding it in wide-eyed wonder there was primal happiness in the moment. I, a fellow creature, had ensnared another organism based on ingenuity left to me by my ancestors. I loved that feeling. I still do.

For me, these trips were less about moments in time, and more about lessons in life.

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