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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
You can hear my Mother’s smile when she answers the phone “bonjour”.

Knowing she prefers to speak French to me I comply mostly because her tone is so happy. After exchanging pleasantries I enquire, “How’s Dad, do you have plans for the day?”

“Your father is fine. He’s watching the Thanksgiving parades and tying flies in the den. Let me take him the phone.” Her happy tone is the same and genuine but I am aware I should have spoken to her longer. I’ve always been closer to my Dad and she deals with it well but I know my Mother wishes it were different.

“What about you, what have you planned today?” I ask genuine and hoping the effort is not too obvious.

“I’m making a small pheasant as it will just be us two dining.”

Years ago this statement would have caused me to defend why I would be missing the family meal. With age has come some wisdom and I avoid conflict by saying, “That sounds like a lovely meal.”

My Mother doesn’t reply nor bid me a farewell but I can hear her even tho she has covered the mouthpiece. “It’s Rachel, make sure she is eating and caring for herself.” The statement slightly hurts. I’ve never had an eating disorder nor had trouble caring for myself. I know her intent is not cause me irritation so I slowly count to five. What she is actually saying is she misses me and worries about me. This I can understand. I miss her as well and know that me being single and roaming the world makes her have some unfounded and some genuine reason for worry.

My Dad’s voice is rich like melted caramel. Less happy in tone than his wife’s. Genuine and soothing to me. “Hey Fräulein, how’s the Emerald Isle?”

“Good, all is very good here. What are you tying?” I don’t so much care about the pattern his hands are working on but rather where he will be using it. The interesting thing about my Father and I’s relationship is we never ask what we really mean but always know regardless and give the appropriate answer.

“Headed to The Firehole, assuming this gentle weather holds. Been really nice here. Lots of warm days but still getting cold at night. Oak Creek has happy old friends of yours.” He is referring to the small trout that I so love to chase on super narrow creeks. The sort he would never bother with when places like The Firehole river run with wild trout of significant more size.

“Do you want me to post you some Adam flies? I have a few tied up and have no use for them here.” The traditional Adam dry fly is a delicate tie. And while my Dad loves to tie flies he is most like someone who loves to sing in the shower when it comes to the more delicate ties. It’s best kept in the quiet and alone.

“I’ve got a handful. Though having anything of yours along on the trip would never be discouraged. Wish you could go.” There is no guilt given in his statement. He is just genuinely wishing that every single fishing trip he ever took I was in waders just down river.

I conclude the call with “Happy Thanksgiving, tell Mom I love her.”

“What about me Fräulein? Is there not enough love in your fare heart for two?” He laughs gently at his own joke.

“You’re chopped liver!” I reply to which my Father’s laughter makes me fill with joy. “Love you Dad.” I say not waiting for a response and hang up.

Thanksgiving as a holiday has never meant a lot to me. Growing up in France when we moved to the States it was just a great long weekend that meant fishing with my Father. This of course came after the Thursday afternoon meal with my American cousins and Aunts and Uncles anyhow it was the fishing I recall. So, it should be noted I liked the holiday just never had a sentimental attachment to it of any sorts. Definitely no childhood memories like that of Christmas.

Thanks however, I have plenty of. My fortunes are beyond what I deserve. I’ve thus far had an amazing life and see no reason to doubt that will continue. Been blessed with happinesses and just the right amount of true sorrow to recognise just how great the good times are. This recently past Thanksgiving brought back an old memory. It wasn’t Thanksgiving day or the weekend but was in early Autumn and a day I am forever thankful for.

Stepping gently from stone to stone on rivers edge with felt soled shoes my tiny feet are sure and agile. A single exposed rock sits splashed with water at the base of a set of rapids. Just bellow this boulder that has been formed by centuries of running water caressing it into the form I now view is a swirl. The sun gleams on the swirling water. Everything that I am is certain a huge trout lives there. Catching all the midges and tiny fish that come down the rapids and are trapped in this swirling little pool in his firm jaws. I can imagine his beautiful golden brown with orange and red patterns. Stepping into the swift river my right hand checks the security of my tiny red life preserver that hangs round my neck. The current is strong and my legs are tiny. These facts and my fear stop me from moving forward once the water reaches my knees. Right hand strips line from reel as my left raises the rod it holds. In rhythm I hold the line with movement of the rod above my golden hair and strip as much line as possible gently placing my midge in the rushing river just above the great stone. The line falls short and the tiny fake insect floats downstream without nearing the place I had intended it go.

The water is swift telling me to not go deeper. The swirl is mesmerising calling me forward. Fear wins out and I try three more casts from where I stand firm and safe. All three fall well short of the intended destination.

“Rache, your intuition is right.” My Father has been watching me and moved to my side. He stands just off my right shoulder upstream.

“Which?, that the water is too swift to go deeper or that a giant ole trout swims by the rock?” I ask turning my eyes to him while reeling in line that lazily floats down the shallows of the river where no trout venture go when the weather is warm as it is on this day.

“Possibly both but certainly one!”

“Which Father? If it is certainly the trout, I will be brave and tread deeper.”

“Rachel, even if I know which way this would conclude I would not tell you. Life is like this river in many ways. It has a final destination. A general path. It will rise during floods and even change course for short sections. There is no guarantee. The river with a few more steps could sweep you off your feet and take you downstream. You won’t drown, you know how to keep your head above the water. It will be scary and very cold. Or you could at waist level find footing and cast to discover if the trout is just where you picture him.”

“I don’t want to be swept downstream.” My chin dips I and stare at the water. My mind rushes back just like the muffling water from the day to several months ago when on a large river in a foreign land I had waded out to deeply and was taken off my feet by the force of the water. I was well past my waste nearing over my chest when it happened. And now I stand frozen by the memory in water just bellow my knees. I had flung my arms about in panic kicking and pawing at rushing water. The clouds had spun overhead and I gasped at air and held breath as I bobbed beneath waters surface. Then my bottom smacked off a rock. I went into greater panic and just when I really began to cry and settle on my fate of drowning, in a place where I couldn’t even speak the language, strong firm hands lifted me from the water. I had spent the rest of the day shivering in chill and self loathing. All the while quietly sulking, fishing shallows for trout smaller than my own youthful hands. Worst of all this, the men caught giant browns and had fun. They laughed that I thought I would drown when all I needed to do was stand up. But I had tried to stand I wanted to shout as they laughed and joked. I kept quiet and knew the situation had been much worse than they believed. The water had taught me a lesson. It also had taught me to fear it.

We stand in silence the only sound the river herself. My small hands fidget with my rod and reel. I want to cry but it’s out of frustration. I don’t want to disappoint myself. Even at the age of eleven I already know I can never disappoint my father. A photographer for the magazine which prints the words my Dad will pen snaps a photo of us from downstream. To those who read the piece it will be a Father and Daughter discussing where the trout are. No one will know that it is a moment in which I will always recall the first time I learned about being afraid. About really being afraid.

“Rachel, you don’t have to do this.”

“Dad just tell me is the water too swift? Is there even a trout?”

“As I said, possibly both but with 100 percent certainty one!”

“You wouldn’t let me wade into water that will sweep me off my feet.” I reply to gain some courage.

“I won’t let you drown. But Rachel, you have to discover how far you can push yourself. Just how deep is deep enough. You have to find out where the trouts in your world live. Sure today, I can hold you and walk you out deeper and let you see if your trout is there. Rachel, it’s your trout tho. Do you understand, this is your trout and only you know if the risk of getting pulled off your feet down the river to those shallows just there is worth it.” His voice is firm and calm. “The last thing I can assure you of is most things worth doing involve a risk. Large trout don’t lazily wait in shallow water for you to trudge along clumsily and drop a worm beside them.”

I look at the river. Follow the swift current to the shallow area with my eyes. Even if my footing gives way it’s only twenty or thirty yards I will struggle and be swept down stream. My right hand touches the water as I bend down. My waders are good quality. The river is freezing and I didn’t even notice. I flick the water with the tip of my rod and pout. Why can’t I be taller? Or the water less swift? Of course the swiftness is exactly why the swirl is beneath the great rock where the ole giant brown swims. In my mind I have become certain the fish is there. My Father has left me alone to this matter and moved toward shore.

Well, if I drown that’s his fault. He can go explaining that to Mom then. I tell myself as stubbornness overcomes fear. Water is over my thighs and I stumble. My foot wedges firmly between rocks and I breath deep. Two more steps and the water is waist deep. One more and it’s wetting the tips of my hair that hangs midway down my back. I’m shaking not from cold but fear as my right hand strips line from reel. My left begins to count measures as rod releases line forward. Fear is lost to the rhythm of casting. Perfect loops form just before line is pulled back the other direction. My 6’ fly rod nearly two feet taller than myself is handled with near perfection. This is the results from having a fly rod in your hand from birth. Just before the fly lands in the water right where I want it in the middle of the swirling waters bellow the old rock, my left hand pulls rod back and lifts the line again. This is a method my Father says is wrong and calls “teasing the trout”. He also says he’s never seen anyone else do it or do it on purpose or with results. In my youthful mind it makes sense to me. Show the trout what you have and then gently offer it. To grown men who know trout are skittish and dart away from the smallest unnatural movement the method makes no sense at all. Sure if the trout see the tiny fake insect and one pulls it away in just a certain manner, it could look real. But the risk is to men not worth the reward. To a small girl who’s always caught a fish even if the fish caught is sometimes very small, it isn’t risky but how she knows the trout truly believe in her tiny fake insect and how she knows she made it act as if alive. This to her is worth more than landing the fish. For me the entire action of fly fishing has but one purpose to make something that is just metal, fur and string appear to be a living creature. So real in likeness and movement that another creature wishes eat it. When a trout hits a fly I tied and then have cast this is the most ultimate compliment I’ve ever known, in this whole world.

As the fly nears the rivers surface the second time my hand allows it to land as though a bug on water. Surface breaks as a native brown decides my offering is real. He twists and spins in the autumn sun. The trout is brilliant and beautiful as it dances on the surface. Rod is whipped toward the heavens and hook with no barbs is set. The great brown swims at me! My hand spins the reel swift as I keep rod tip high. Any loss of tension of the line and without a barb on the hook he will swim free and away. I would have risked drowning for nothing but a lost chance to meet a fish. I step back just as trout reverses, flips and spins to run. Reel is released buzzing to not allow line to over tension and snap. Then it happens I step forward my footing is lost and water swirls in my waders with a rush of cold. The world spins and I gasp breath as I go under. My legs scratch for surface of rocks but the water is far too swift. Sunshine and air as I nearly stand. I breath deep and again am under water the sky a blur. As quick as it happened somewhere thirty yards down the river on my knees my mind races. On the end of line I feel a familiar tug and gently reel in the magnificent brown trout who gave up when I had refused to do the same. My net is gone so with gentle hands I lift the brown from the water. He is much smaller than I’d thought but more beautiful. His golden tone is broken up with yellow, orange, red and even a couple blue rings of colour. Hook removed I kiss him between the eyes to then watch him with flick of tail swim away.

Two men make their way toward me. “I got photos of the fight but not the fish. You should have waited to release the trout.” Says the one with the camera.

The other says, “Rachel, I do wish you’d learn to fish like a normal kid.” He is laughing and I can see his pride for me swelling his chest.

I am Thankful for having a Father who took me fishing. For having a Father who allowed me to discover where the trout live. Allowing me to fail and succeed on my own, even if this meant doing both at the same time. Mostly, I am thankful for a life where on my own two feet I could discover just when the rushing water will wisp you away.
Water Sky Plant Vertebrate Casting (fishing)

Fishing big waters of Montana years after I overcame fear of getting out in the water.
Smile Outdoor recreation Fisherman Sunglasses Fish

I still prefer smaller trout on smaller streams. Because of the challenge; no longer out of fear.
 

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spin... spin.. spin
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I never read long posts. I thoroughly enjoy reading your stories, no matter how long.
Miles, thanks. I write to clear my thoughts and know how I feel. It makes sense not wanting to read long posts and quite frankly it’s flattering you bother with mine.

I was fortunate to grow up in a house with an author. He never taught me to write but handed me the words of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and then the wonderful words of Steinbeck took me many places. My great companion Molière, he was where I found my own thoughts written by another. In the end I write because it is how I sort my thinking.

Thanks for giving your team to read my rambling.
 

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Spin Spin Spin
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You're crossing over from memories/stories into legit screenplays and novels. True gift to pull stuff from your head and lay it out for all to experience with such compelling eloquence and elegance. I have some sort of block between my mind and the page to accomplish such feats of magic. Again, thanks for sharing!
 

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spin... spin.. spin
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Because he wrote about how bad the produce companies treated the field workers. The locals couldn't handle the honesty. Now everyone wants to be associated with Steinbeck.
I had never thought about how as times change views change. Someone can go from a “troublemaker” to “an individual with great insight” in just a few years time.
 

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spin... spin.. spin
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
You're crossing over from memories/stories into legit screenplays and novels. True gift to pull stuff from your head and lay it out for all to experience with such compelling eloquence and elegance. I have some sort of block between my mind and the page to accomplish such feats of magic. Again, thanks for sharing!
Thanks. It actually just feels good to get things out. A secondary reward is if someone enjoys it.
 

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Sprocket. You have such a wise father.
Thank you for sharing.
Thanks for trusting us & taking us along.

My oldest son has told me sometimes he MUST write. Must get it OUT just as a person needs to exhale.
He has written since he could write and he too has a gift and, like most artists (you included), he’s often surprised at the positive comments he receives for just writing to clear the slate.
 
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