It’s funny how things come to mind, even after two decades of not thinking about it. I remember one morning I woke up and my dad told me that him and my grandfather were going fishing for trout the next day and he asked if I wanted to go. I remember that being a particular strange week for me because it was report card week in school and naturally, I hadn’t done very well, so it was definitely a surprise that he asked me to go with them. So for a few hours I sat in my room and thought about it and eventually decided to go.
I spent the remainder of the afternoon trying to fix my rod and reel because it had become tangled. It was just a regular run of the mill rod and reel you can get at any hardware store for under twenty dollars but it was the only one I had and it felt pretty great to fix something. My father and I ended up going to visit my grandfather to make sure everything was going to go as planned and we could just get up and go the next morning. While we were there I found out that he preferred fly fishing and had a hand made pole with a cork grip that he was planning on using, the kind of rod that looked like it took a lot of time and effort to make and was maintained regularly. My father and my grandfather rummaged through old lures and flies that they would use the next day and as we left, my father made sure to remind him to bring his fish basket with the old leather strap on it which looked like it was fashioned from an old belt. My grandfather seemed to scold my father as if to say “of course I’ll bring it, I’m not senile yet”. I remember the drive home and the excitement on my fathers face. I was certain he had gone insane, but he was happy about it.
I woke up the next morning, it was early, the sun wasn’t up yet and my father was just outside my room in the kitchen making himself breakfast. I chose not to have anything because I knew that he would stop into a gas station and grab some cookies, chips and drinks for the day to snack on. I got ready and stuffed an extra pair of socks in my coat and got a bag together of some licorice and a bottle of water. After grabbing my gear and throwing my items into my dad’s blue pickup truck, I began to get excited for the day even though I found it unusual to be awake that early. We then proceeded down the road with no seat belts on because that’s how we did things when I was a kid. We got to my grandfathers house and he waddled out of one of his sheds in full rubber gear to the truck where I got out of the front seat and sat on the less comfortable seat in the back. My grandmother waved from their doorway as we pulled away from their house and finally, we were on the road to start the day.
We were headed from Bonavista to Port Rexton, which was only about a half hour drive if you were going around the speed limit, but first the truck needed fuel. I knew this would be a great time to make a request as to what I wanted my dad to buy me while he was in the shop but unfortunately he had gotten out of the truck before I could decide. He came back to the truck, handed my grandfather a small bag with some items in it and he tossed me a bag with things in it too. Sour cream and onion chips, a Reese’s peanut butter cup bar and some Pepsi. It always amazed me that he knew exactly what I wanted.
He then started the beast up and pulled out of the gas station parking lot and made for the highway. I was half asleep already, my small lunch was nearly gone at this point, the sun was just starting to break over the tree covered hills and my dad, being the classic man that he is, popped in his very memorable mixed tape. I had spent a lot of time in vehicles with my dad from the time I could remember to the time I graduated high school. I can remember at least seven vehicles that didn’t withstand the test of time but somehow that ridiculously relaxing tape had survived. From Kid Rock’s “Only God knows why”, Ozzy’s “Crazy Train” and Prince and the Revolution’s “Purple Rain” to Metallica’s “Turn the Page”, 51-40’s “Casual Viewin'” and The Sweet’s “Ballroom Blitz”, that tape had it all. Those songs will be burned into the deepest corners of my memories to the point that if I ever get amnesia, at least I’ll still have something from my childhood.
After what seemed like forever and darting in and out of being asleep, we went up a long hill where there was a small area for us to pull in. We got out of the truck, grabbed all of the gear that we brought with us and started down through the trees to my fathers favorite fishing spot. My grandfather had a little difficulty because he was old and had issues with his legs, but he kept going and was determined to put his hooks in that water. We kept going over rocks and through trees with vehicles going by on the road to the left of us over a hill. We kept trudging through the forest and moss until we got to a rushing torrent of water and an old, rickety bridge that had seen better days. That’s when we split up and started hunting for a spot where we would spend the remainder of the day.
My grandfather was a little eager. He ended up taking out his multitude of flies and tying one on right there on that bridge and decided to drop his line into the rushing water. To my amazement he was the first to catch something and gave out a bellowing “I got one” Just so my dad could hear him, wherever he had gone. While he kept at his shenanigans on the bridge, I figured I’d head out to a small point near the waters edge where I would cast my line and that’s when I noticed my father was about a hundred feet away from me to my left, further down the shoreline. I got my bait ready and started casting when I heard my father call out that he had gotten a fish, finally. By this point I was sure that my grandfather had caught half a dozen, either that or he was just singing to himself.
I had a few nibbles on my line but it was clear to me that the two older gentlemen were catching everything in sight and were leaving nothing for me. I decided to attach a bobber to my line, wedge my rod between a rock and a tree, then proceeded to sit down and just wait. After getting tired of waiting, I started up through the trees between where the bridge was and where my father had been. There wasn’t much to see, a few squirrels, some birds but all together an underwhelming experience. I didn’t want to stray too far so I thought I’d turn back, maybe by now something had to have been on the end of my line. I remember heading back the same way I came and seeing the bridge in plain sight. My grandfather wasn’t there anymore, he had gone down a small embankment to the water and traversed over some slippery rocks and was standing out in the water, casting his line. To the left of him, on the opposite side of the bridge was my father, casually casting his line and clearly having more fun than I was because he had his basket nearly filled.
I remember standing on that old, worn bridge and thinking to myself that life couldn’t possibly be more care free. There we were, three generations of my family doing something together that we enjoyed. My grandfather whipping his line back and forth over his shoulder, my father casting his line out to the side of him and myself, now sitting on a bridge, knowing I wouldn’t catch anything that day but still kept my line in the water anyways. I feel like that day was more than just an outing. I feel like it was a moment that my dad wanted me to have. I believe he felt like it was important enough for me to get away from everything I could be worrying about and just breathe. So I sat there with my eyes closed, unable to hear anything but the rushing water on the rocks beneath me, looking up occasionally to see my father and grandfather talking to each other and laughing. It’s a day I’ll never forget. I think it’s a memory I’ll always hold onto.