Thankful for My Amazing Childhood Memories and the Man Who Was There For Them All

Night Fishing

by Me

The evening sun snuggles between mountains on the horizon, casting amber and rose light across the water’s surface. Waves from boats, jet skis and swimming children eases into the lazy ripples of a late summer breeze. Cloaked in muggy heat, crickets and bullfrogs play the score of my childhood. Beside me, fireflies rise from tall grasses in a beautiful reverse cascade blinking the evening away, conjuring the night into existence. A man I knew in his prime hunches crookedly over a little girl, tying tiny feathers onto her near invisible line. Her eager face stares into his watery blue eyes, not caring about the process he explains in the animated voice of a grandfather.

He smells of marshmallows and rain, Old Spice and Copenhagen. I know because I was the small child in his lap many years ago. I, too, ate his marshmallow bait, forcing him to carry feather flies and pack his former bait in neat plastic bags as a snack for me instead of the trout.

The little girl stands, tossing braided pigtails over her shoulders and stuffing the last marshmallow between pink rosebud lips. Her gum boots are camouflage, an enchanting addition to the frilly pink sundress and bows dancing in the wind. With the flip of her dimpled four-year-old wrist, the little pole points to the water and yards of clear line sail into the night, her spotted feather bait seeking a fish hungry enough to trust her lie.

Pride wells on the man’s face and his easy smile chases away the wrinkles and years separating the little girl and me.

“She’s just like you were,” he says over her tiny head, as he struggles to stand on aged legs. He braces a soft palm against the rough bark of our willow tree, seeking a better view of my daughter’s hard work. I nod, blink back tears and swallow hard with an emotion thickened throat.

“Thanks Daddy,” I croak, half embarrassed by the emotional tidal wave brought on by a few fireflies and a handful of marshmallows.

He waves me off, refusing to join in my tears. Instead, he claps when she squeals, reeling wildly at the water’s edge. An enthusiastic catfish has taken interest in her silly feather fly and her grandpa helps her bring the catch to shore. He looks at me as if I’m somehow the one responsible.

“You did real good, darlin’,” he coos into the night’s dim light, and I’m pretty sure the words were meant for us both.

 

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