Power of Silence

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With worms swimming through my fingers, and the boat rocking, I was right at home. Dusk was sweeping across the Michigan lake, leaving only traces of pink in the sky and water. My Dad was casting off into the dark still water, both of us were silent as we listened to the forlorn call of a loon. I tried not to wince as I put the worm on my hook and listened to the plop it made when casted off; as it's ripples grew in the deep jade abyss. Not talking seemed alright, most of the time it was for us. The silence filled the place of our useless words. There wasn't a single sound around, nothing. It made life so clear and simple.

A quick tug on my line brought my attention back to my fishing, and I hated being cheated of a worm. Reeling it in, I thought about my father, and I thought about fishing too. Taught by his grandfather, on a small Pennsylvania lake, he had learned all the tricks to lure one in. All those rules and tips, now passed down to me, I realized. Depending on what fish you wanted, different parts of the lake fit best. Bass was our favorite catch because they're quick minded and a tough one to reel in, so we usually stilled the boat near deeper, more weedy areas of the lake. A grin stretched across my face as I thought of all those suckers we'd tossed up on the boat years earlier, all those moments of surprise, as the fish tries to swim off with your worm. Of course there were the times of coming home in the dark of night, and not a fish at hand as you tie up the boat. But fishing isn't about bringing home mounds of food to eat, its 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.

As I expected, my hook resurfaced empty, and a burning vengeance grew in me to capture the little prankster who had stolen his food unfairly. With another long cast off, I considered all the fish it could be, and my mind drifted of with the waves once more. To the times I've spent sprawled on the floor flipping through the fishing handbook from my Dad's fishing box. There were so many different kinds, some with ornate flecks and shimmery stripes, or others with slick black scales, and gleaming orange eyes. So many different fish, all in the same water. So many names, pike, sun fish, pumpernickel, muskellunge it made me think how people in a way can be just like fish. We go about our lives, choosing different paths and rivers to follow in the end, finding ourselves where we belong.

I looked at my Dad now as the worm and hook sunk deeper into the shadows of the peaceful water. His brown eyes watched the 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 his childhood mischevies. Funny how clear and sharp his face seemed to me out on the water, as if someone had cleaned off the glass that I view my world through. A day fishing was never complete without him there. Who would have helped me when I was young and tottery as I tried to cast my line into the water, or when I pulled in my first little fish, and learned to be careful touching the scales of a fish, in case it tried to cut you. On a rickety white rowboat, I learned more about my father than I had anywhere else.

A sharp tug snapped me back into my hunt, and I could feel the line trembling with life on the other end. Waiting a few seconds, I skillfully began to reel it in, and could feel the swurve and pulls of the fish's escapes. He surfaced the water with a sharp splash, and I grabbed the clear line in my hand as I pulled the small mouth bass closer to me. His gills pushed air in and out, as he flexed his forest green scales in the darkness. My Dad took the hook out of his jaw with a quick swipe, and I looked into those burning goldenrod eyes. Fear fill every inch of the fish, and I sudden;y felt such simpathy for it, so slowly I dipped my hand into the dark night water, and released the bass to it's own freedom.

We came home with nothing to grill. But I think we were okay with that for today. Something about the whole essence of fishing makes things not so bad when you step onto the dock afterwards. As if the waves and the breeze make all your worries slink away. 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".





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