This one is for you, Dad:
Some of my most favorite moments growing up were fishing with my Dad. Every fishing hole I've ever fished with him are locked forever in my memory. To this day I can smell the freshness of my hikes in the woods to reach our destination, the combination of moss, trees, dirt, water, and little orange fish goop we'd stick on the ends of our bait to attract the biggest Rainbow Trout we could find. Those were my favorite fish, probably not for the taste nor their beauty but probably for the simple fact that the name had the word "rainbow" in it and I was the biggest Rainbow Bright fan ever.
With my Dad in front of me hiking down to the river bed, I would carefully watch his every step, follow exactly in his every footstep, keeping in mind the words he would often say to me, "watch your step, punk." If we arrived at a steep part in the trail, he'd climb down it to turn around and look up at me with his arms open wide assuring me he'd catch me. Trusting him, I'd jump into his arms and he'd place me back down on the path. Once we'd get to the river, it was never enough just to set up at the end of the trail and begin fishing, we'd head down the river, of the beaten path, to find the best spot. We'd climb rocks, cross over logs perfectly placed across the river from a fallen tree, perhaps get our feet wet crossing the river at a low spot because the other side looked more intriguing. If the water was too rough or too deep for my little feet Dad would pick me up and prop me on his shoulders, carrying me across the river to solid ground. Many times he'd reach his hand out to me and pull me across to the next big rock he was standing on if my legs couldn't jump the distance.
These adventures weren't just about the fishing, they were about the journey to get to "the spot."
My Dad and I share the same spot along the river, it's a hike to get to but the rewards are worth it. There are natural hot springs that come up out of the ground at the top of the hill above our spot and trickle down through the rocks into the river. There's sort of a cliff that goes up on one side of the hot springs where fossils are buried. At the bottom of the hill are flat slabs of rock that reaches out into the river. There you can take a dip in the river's deepness or catch fish that camps out under the shades of the slab.
The day that my Grandmother passed away, she asked my Dad to take her to that area so she could gather moss for some flower pot arrangements she was making. Dad loaded her and some buckets into the truck and they went on an adventure. She took the long journey down the ravine. Once they got to the river, she looked at my Dad and said, "I would like you to scatter my ashes here when I die." They started the hike back up. She complained about her arm hurting and stopped frequently to rest. She was a trooper though and made it back to the truck with moss in hand.
Later that evening Grandma passed away from a heart attack. It was almost as if she knew it was going to be her last day.
Dad scattered her ashes at our spot. This was 6 years ago.
For some reason fishing just isn't quite the same anymore. I've tried fishing by myself, with my husband and with friends but I just don't get the same level of satisfaction from it. This is something special that I have between my Daddy and I.
I haven't been back to our spot since Grandma passed away and I suppose I'm due for a visit. However, I visit it quite often in my memory. I can visualize Dad helping me reel in my "big" 4 inch Rainbow Trout, pulling it out of the river and laying it down on the slab we stood on. After unhooking the fish he pulls his heavy-duty pocket knife out of his pocket to knock the fish unconscious, and I say in excitement, "I wanna knock 'em in the head Daddy."