“At the river. Where good things happen.” This is what a sign read that 1950’s river guide C. W. Nichols used to hang on his abode when he was absent. It was also my response to friends who inquired about my whereabouts a few weeks back. I had been at the river.
I had been with my wife and got to watch her once more catching trout. We met a cousin at the river and got to watch his young son catch his first fish. A four-pound rainbow trout. I hooked a few myself, using a Puppy Spook. Good things all.
And I met Andy and Franky. Two fishing buddies spending a few days flyfishing before going back to school soon. Watching the daybreak as they cast dry-flies on a beautiful spring-fed stream near the Arkansas line. Swimming nearby in the afternoons to survive the heat. Enjoying meals at the local lodge. Reading together nights, no TV.
Two people bonding over a shared love of fishing. And the serenity of the outdoors. At the river. Two buddies. Only when cleaned up and perfumed for evening dining, Franky was then Francis. A pre-teenage girl. Andy’s daughter.
Andy, a teacher, was instructing Franky, a student, on flyfishing. While mother was still at work, she would vacation with them the following week; the two were pursuing a sport they both enjoy. And enjoying each other’s company. At the river.
We met at the same small resort Judy and I frequent—Rockbridge Trout Ranch. I was upstream and got to watch her land a real jumper. Got to see the look of accomplishment on her face; the look of pride on the father. The shared look of love on the countenances of both.
Lure designer Cotton Cordell once stated that “If you take a young child and teach them to love to fish; when they become teenagers no drug dealer around will have anything that interests them.” I believe that. It takes time. Fabled angler Izak Walton noted “As no man is born an artist, no man is born a fisherman.” Nor is any young lady.
This interaction between Andy and Franky was inspiring to watch. Neurologist Sigmund Freud declared “I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.” Boys and girls. As a former educator, I believe this as well.
After the absence of God in our homes and lives, next might be the parental void around too many of our children. Some because of broken homes or nothing more than unexpected pregnancies leading to births with no commitment. Some because of tragedies.
And many because of a society that has for too long decided to let children raise themselves. Parents that are content to just ship their children off to schools and relieve themselves of any further obligation and accountability. Churchgoers that restrict their attentions to Sundays and perhaps Wednesday evenings.
The media has been full of horrific incidents of late and the lack of parental supervision and involvement is treated as a sideline instead of the root of our problems. The world of social media, television, film our youth have to now negotiate is treacherous—more so without mature and loving guides.
Greek playwright Euripides observed “To a father growing old nothing is dearer than a daughter.” In his old age, Andy will have this reward. Now, he enjoys the comradery of a fellow fisherman. Evenings not interrupted by electronic invasions. The adoration of a daughter. Good things all. At the river.
Thanks for joining us!