MY PRIUS STUNK LIKE FISH on our four-hour drive home on Sunday.
It wasn’t because of the 20 dead fish in the cooler. They were frozen rock hard, each fish resting in pieces in its own plastic bag. With all the bags buried under ice.
The stink was because of:
- three fishermen in the car: me, my son Brad, and my son-in-law Jon. We had jumped in the car fresh from the river.
- gear we had used to fly-fish on Friday afternoon, all day Saturday, and a couple of hours on Sunday morning. Waders. Boots. Vests with lots of pockets. Fishing packs. Fly boxes. Rods and reels.
“Maybe we’ll get used to it,” Jon said of the smell, as he closed the car door and latched his seat belt.
We never quite did.
I hosed off everything after I got home, and dried it in the sun. As for the fishing flies, which are the lures we tie onto tiny lines called tippets, they smelled more fishy than fish. Perhaps because some of them had been inside the mouths of rainbow trout. I’m letting those air out on my workbench in the garage. If anyone has suggestions for cleaning them, my wife would appreciate hearing about that. In the meantime, I’m hoping the smell eventually disintegrates.
Our trip was part of a church group of about 30 men who enjoyed fly fishing or who wanted to learn to fly fish.
Some of the men were from our church. Others, like my son and son-in-law, were invited by gents from the church.
I’ve thought about the trip, and about what I enjoyed most.
- Catching fish was nice. Those trout fought so hard and long they deserved to live. I’m a bit of a sucker when it comes to animals dying for us. Each time I held a fish in my hands and pulled out the hook, I apologized and I thanked them for their gift of life. I know, it’s sappy. So what.
- The men were fun to hang out with. Joyful, kind-hearted, and helpful to one another. We couldn’t sing a lick, however. At least not in the right key.
- The scenery was breathtaking. Especially in the morning, when the fog lay on the water and hid among the trees. I knew it would be, so I risked carrying in my vest pockets my iPhone camera and a video camera. When I saw a picture I wanted to keep, I kept it. Who can walk among the waters and not love the creation and wonder about the mystery of its Creator?
- My favorite part of the weekend, however, was being with my sons. My boy Brad and his new brother-in-law hadn’t been able to spend much time together. I’m not sure that before this trip they ever had much of a chance to get to know one another, have fun together, and spend hours talking about whatever came to mind.
They learned together. Neither had been fly-fishing before. Both seemed to fall instantly in love with it. Quick studies, they were giving me pointers by Saturday afternoon.
They fished side-by-side. Jon would get a hit and start working the trout left to right. Brad would pull off his own net strapped to his back and run that fish down for Jon, chasing it in what looked like a dance. I captured one dance on video. I will have to set it to music.
Sometimes they went off on their own, to grab a drink while the older gents hung out. Brad said afterward that he hoped I didn’t mind them doing that, and that I didn’t feel left out.
“Not at all,” I said. “I’m glad you did.”
That’s how we build family bonds, develop mutual respect, and – in time – learn to love each other.
The key word is time.
It wasn’t until Jesus had spent months – perhaps years – with his 12 disciples (sometimes fishing with them) that he said:
“Love each other in the same way I have loved you” (John 15:12).
There were moments last weekend that washed over me in a flood of feeling.
- Sunday morning, watching the two men fishing in a picture so perfect that I had to park my fishing rod and capture the moment in the photo that accompanies this article.
- Saturday at the Honey Hole. That’s what the boys called the most productive fishing spot, at the base of a small, spring-fed waterfall. There I saw them laughing together, running in the water to net the other one’s trout, casting side-by-side with fly lines curling majestically in the air.
On the long drive home, my son caught me smiling.
“What’s up?” he asked.
“I’m allowed to smile,” I said.
For more about family relationships
- ebook: How to Live in the Moment
- A song for family reunions
- Secret to a happy family
- Family reunion ahead; is that good?
- Video: Father of the Bride, the Dance