Perfect Water

The last summer I went fishing with my father up north the last thing on my mind was how I wouldn’t get another chance to hear him talk about buying and running a small fishing lodge,

a retirement interest of his that I think helps to explain why every summer he’d invite me to stay at one with him.

I can still see him sitting in a rocking chair in one of those modest cabins he liked to rent, reading a book underneath a standing lamp and sipping on a beer, his grey hair the color of one of my flies I’d use the following morning when I went out with the guide.

But it wasn’t all butter rum Life Savers for Christmas, because despite how we’d often argue with one another about the ethics of responsible fishing practices and styles, myself a purist fly fisherman, himself a beer and bobber lover, I’m pretty sure he just loved the idea of fishing more than actually doing it,

since more often than not, when it came time to actually fish, he’d decide to stay in because of his back, or watch me fish from the porch, a gestalt that made it more pleasurable to be there with him, even when it was disappointing.

Though there was that time he guilted me into taking the last boat on the water and letting him drag some godawful thing 50 yards behind us back and forth across the lake for hours, while he laughed at me steering the electric motor and called me “idiot” in between slurps of Bud.

I stopped fishing a couple of years after he passed for many reasons, one of them being obvious, though sometimes on social media I’ll see a friend has posted a picture of their kid holding up a fish, and when I see that I almost always wonder

do those families think about how someday lasting joy will fish them from their own dream of having the perfect water to leave on? This I usually follow with my usual social awkwardness over not knowing how to explain that that’s probably the last thing they want to hear. Joy, whatever form it takes, is about what never leaves us as long as we’re alive.

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