clattering over the depths

In the someday to arrive (the final age, if you will), I wonder if, rather than becoming instantly flawless, I'll simply know it's okay to make mistakes.

Some activities in this age-that-continues include goofs that don't bother me much. Like when I go fishing with my dad.

Friday began early, the plan being that Dad would pick me up at 6:30, we'd get out to the reservoir by 7:00, and then we would fish from his boat, at our favorite hole, all morning. But things happened. As they do. Delayed, we roamed around town in Dad's truck at 7:30, thoughts of fishes drifting us over to the dock at Junction City Pond. The spot is small yet lovely (if somewhat littered), near Highway 99, replete with duck families below and birds of prey overhead.

Our fishing lines probed wind-brushed water, Dad chatting amiably with the only other human in sight, a man older than he and full of advice. Then we decided to hit the nearby truckstop for refreshment. We weren't giving up on fishing -- not by a lot shot yet -- the signs at the pond just weren't hopeful, seeing as the Osprey flew off after a cursory inspection.

Cocoa and coffee warmed us. The waitress (whose pickup parked out front carried bumper slogans like "Bad ass chick") told us she fishes regularly with a pink pole. I feel awful about forgetting to tip her when I paid for Dad's side of toast. The fishing talk and my eagerness to let her know this man escorting me was my father, so she didn't think anything funny about our relationship (not that she would; what gets into me) caused leaving the extra change off my credit slip. But Dad and I were on our way again before I realized I shorted her.

We solved the issue delaying us, Dad hooked up his boat trailer, and we made it to Leaburg by 10:00. The metal boat slipped into the water. As I do whenever I make this expedition, I held the rope while Dad parked the truck. Losing my timidity, or maybe just loosing it, is fairly easy once the water's fresh scent surrounds me.

Soon we were properly situated near our hole. First cast, Dad brought up a nice rainbow, its flashing belly my aim as I netted river and finally the trout. Not much later Dad had reeled in fish number two, and several happy nibblers had stolen my bait.

The couple in a boat close to ours made ready to leave while offering information on an amazing hole a ways upriver. "Not more than half a mile," the man said as his wife (or daughter, you never know) tucked her pole in beside him. "You'll see a gradual bank of rocks on the left. You wouldn't believe the fish there."

Hm. Fishermen tend, of course, to exaggerate. And folks on rivers sometimes only need a thin excuse to head farther upstream, good fishing hole or not.

Besides, Dad had his dandy electric motor. We weighed anchor, he flipped a switch, and we were off.

Shortly after the boat launch left our view, Dad said, "Uh, oh. It died."

We could drift back to square one with the current. But the day had turned sunny. We'd just rounded a curve and were out of the strongish breeze. So lovely. "I feel like rowing a ways," Dad said.

We continued our quest for the gradual rocky shore.

By now, as you might guess, the noon hour had nearly passed. No matter. We had entered that channel of adventure, that carefree zone kissed by summer and not burdened by a schedule. The click-squeak of Dad's paddles was the rhythm, the next bunch of bright green trees the goal, until another river bend beckoned. And another.

"You sure you're pacing yourself?" I asked Dad. I knew my upper body strength (if it can be called so) would never guide us back.

"Oh, I'm enjoying this," he said. "Just hope there's plenty of Ben Gay at home."

We hadn't seen any gradual bank. We'd crossed shallow areas where casting my line meant a tussle between bottom rocks and my hook and bait. At times I became mesmerized by what I could see of the world down under. What might I come to understand of this real place beneath? Ripples, light, current-carried debris. Was that shimmer a fish? Never could I with my senses capture one that lived. Only were I to hook and hold it might we interact.

I couldn't restrain theologyish thoughts. The river, the heavens. My known sphere in connection with another. Water like a synergy between us.

Dad rowed us close to the left shore under some trees for mid-afternoon shade.

I peered down and gasped.

"Dad! Lots of fish!"

Below us lurked dark shapes of creatures resting, untroubled, moving a tail, a fin, repositioning bodies against the slow current. They were huge.

What I should have done was lift my camera, breath held, locking my soul into moments or hours or days of awestruck wonder at the lengths reached by wisdom-graced trout.

But I grabbed my pole. Dad said, "Drop anchor!" and I fumbled the heavy chain, clattering it over the side. We tried casting for fish giants long disappeared. The tree leaves chuckled as their branches caught our lines.

Later, Dad needed only to row occasionally as we drifted back toward the reservoir. I caught two fish, one of them more than eleven inches. A baby, still, compared to those in the hole we spied.

Or maybe I'm exaggerating. What I know is on the drive home Dad and I had a nice, theologyish discussion, and when we got to their place Mom served us fresh cooked beans from their garden and hovered over us (having eaten already; it was 6:30 by then), and we described to her the fish we saw and how the trip was worth that moment, not to mention everything else. Then Mom fed me dessert while Dad got his hunting knife and went outside to clean my fish.


Geoff Koerner said…
A wonderful story well told. I was so engaged that at the end I needed to shake my head to remember I was in front of the computer.
Geoff Koerner said…
The photos were great, too. The text and pictures went as one big gestalt into my head and only with effort could I discern between the two.
jodi said…
It's so clear! I think the fish saw you coming and scattered when the anchor went down. But still--an eleven inch fish isn't all that small. :)
Carol Webster said…
What an idyllic trip. The things you saw, the sounds and beauty of the moment and being together--father and daughter-- were what made it so special. The fish were a bonus!
Verna Wilder said…
Wow! Like Geoff, I was completely caught up in story and pictures, surprised at the end to find myself at my desk. What a beautiful story, so simple and sweet and fun - "theologyish" - hah! And what a lovely relationship you describe between you and your father. Thank you, Deanna, for inviting me in.
Oh this brought back waves of poignant memories of fishing with my Daddy when I was a little girl, and the wonderful hurt of wishing he could sit with me on this porch today. My favorite line? "We had entered that channel of adventure, that carefree zone kissed by summer and not burdened by a schedule." Fantastic, Deanna.