Up, Up and Away
A long time ago, when I was eight, dad took me fishing. It was in April, the first day of fishing season in northern Quebec. And I didn’t care if it was cold, or if there was still snow on the ground.
“Help me find my warm boots?” I asked. And he did. Then I helped dad make peanut butter sandwiches, my favorite. “Where’s my packsack?” I asked. Smiling patiently, he found it for me.
“This is how I’m going to get a fish,” I said. Holding my new fishing rod birthday gift full stretch, I saw its neat lines, tightly wound threads and shiny eyelets. Then swinging it around, smacked the water glass from the kitchen table. Good thing he helped me clean up all the bits and pieces.
Mom just stood and shook her head. I don’t think she was upset. Just glad her boys were going fishing together, anywhere out of the house.
We loaded up our pickup truck. First my fishing rod was too long in the front. So I placed it in the back. Then I put our packsacks with sandwiches and water right beside it. Almost forgot our fishing box with some neat lures, but dad didn’t. He handed the green tin box to me.
The gravel road was full of loose stones. And they flew behind us as if fired from slingshots. But I couldn’t see much because of the dust. Then we hit a huge bump. “My fishing rod!” I yelled, as I watched it bounce from the truck. Dad put the brakes on so hard I flew across the seat and almost choked on the road dust that soon covered us.
“I saw it fly across that ditch,” I said. Dad climbed down the side of the road. And stepped on some ice. “Don’t get wet!” I yelled. But, he did.
Soon dad came back with my neat gift, scratched and covered in mud. The broken cork handle made it shorter than before. After starting on our way, I could now keep my fishing rod in my lap. And my tears had stopped.
It’s hard to try and be a man when your birthday present tries to take off like a crow then gets broken. At least it fit inside the front of the truck. “Does that mean I can’t go fishing? I ask.
“No,” dad answered. “I’m going to show you another way to fish,” he said. “Just like my own dad showed me.”
“At least we’re still going fishing!” I shouted. After a while, my hat blew off. Dad stopped the truck and this time I went along to help him find it. I tried not to notice him talking to himself.
“Keep it in your lap, under the tackle box,” he suggested. “This is where our hiking begins,” dad said when we finally stopped. The trail was full of icy ditches. He said, “Try not to get wet.” But I did.
It was fun jumping on the ice. Except when I broke through. It was like a freezing /waterfall splashing all over. Good thing he brought an extra pair of pants for me. He must know me really well by now.
Finally we reach the lake. It seems like we walked half way around the world. Most of the ice is gone. And some ducks are swimming. The water’s too cold for me though. I just want to fish.
I watch carefully as dad shows me my grandfather’s way to fish, without a fishing pole.
He finds a heavy rock, wraps some line around it then ties a knot. After that he makes a little circle with the rest of the line, in a pile beside his foot. And ties a neat silver spinner on the very end. Then he makes another knot keeping it fast to the strong black line.
Holding about three feet of line in front of him, he begins to twirl. He does that a couple of times and sends it flying over the water. It sure took off, making a heavy splash some distance away. I can’t wait for my turn.
“Do you want some help?” Dad asked.
“No, I want to do it all by myself.”
“Did you watch everything I did?” he asked.
“Yes,” I answer. “And I’m going to throw it farther than you!” I bragged loudly. I take my line and wrap it around another rock. Then I make a circle with the rest beside my feet. And knot my special gold spoon on the end I am going to throw.
After winding up like a baseball player, my first throw goes backwards and catches on a tree limb. But dad gets it down for me. I think he ripped his pants. Now I’m ready to begin twirling again. First, I do one big circle, then two, then three. And finally let go. My spoon, like a rocket, goes up and up. The sun makes it shine.
A lucky crow gets out of the way. The floppy bird might think it’s a truck…no, maybe a plane that flies. My line flies through the air, past a floating log. And over some ducks on the water.
It goes and goes and…Oh, oh. “Dad, I forgot to make a knot when I wrapped the line around my rock!”
I remember long ago how he shook his head. And smiled. Now I do too. I think he’s still out there on the lake. And he’s looking for a lost gold spoon for his little boy.
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© Richard & Esther Provencher 2007