I baited their hooks…..  Belle watched attentively while I pierced the tiny cricket.  Softly, she apologized as she dropped them over the side of the boat into certain doom…. Death by Fish.  The same scenario was repeated over and over… until she became accustomed to the routine.  Baker didn’t mind touching the crickets, but insisted on casting artificial bait.  He sat silently on the bow… alone… casting… reeling….

The clouds were dark grey.. low…  bringing a stiff breeze across the river.  We sputtered and bounced across the choppy water, feeling the occasional spray from the front as the pontoons smacked the waves. Belle and Baker sat in the front.. legs propped along the railing, taking in the scenery… passing boats…  ducks…. A green airborne film settled on everything. The boat.  The water.  Dropping anchor in a shallow cove out of the main channel, the kids’ impatience took over. Fishing is a “patient” sport.  I remembered my childhood fishing experiences.  We walked.  Waded creeks…. crawled beneath barbed fences….  watched for the bull.  Climbed the ridge to finally reach the bank of the Tennessee River.  Mocassin Bend in full view.  The current was swift, but we always boasted of being able to swim across.  None of us ever attempted it. 


Today, I just wanted to watch my children fish.  Sit on the boat…  Watch them hug their cousin, Tyler.  Listen to them laugh.  Baker focused on the fishing.  He said very little while we fished, but frequently looked over his shoulder at me and grinned.  Methodically, he found a pattern….  a system…  a comfortable rythm. I wondered what was going through his mind… Or… if he were simply fishing.. focusing.  He is much like me when I was a young boy. Cautious… overthinking… content to be quiet.. loner.  Belle couldn’t sit still.  She often broke into a hip-hop move, which I’m certain impeded her fishing abilities.  I dodged hooks.

….. at some point…  piercing the crickets became commonplace.  No more apologies… no remorse.  I asked God to separate me from the crickets.  Not to allow my kids to become comfortable with our  ocassional separation… brief distances… nights when I cannot tuck them in…  touch their faces as they lie in bed.  Life is always changing… days come and go… pass us by.  We grow and become acclimated to our surroundings.. learn to weather the storms….  to stop fighting that which is unwanted… give up, perhaps.  I promise my children that I’ll never pass on an opportunity to be with them… hug them…. let them know that no one can ever come before them.. between us….

The grey clouds began to open and bright sunlight finally reached us. Pink cheeks and sleepy eyes signaled that they were tired. Within a couple of miles, they were both asleep.   Heads leaned against the backseat, swaying with each curve.  Woke them up for dinner with friends… watched them interact. Looking across the table… Clouds have begun to part.. sunlight is apparent…. for them… for me. 

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