It was a brisk morning in the valley. Fog rolled over the winding river. The river cut through the quiet Missouri valley air as the sun crept down the mountain side. Nestled right in between two rolling mountains was a camp site with a couple dozen tents beginning to breathe with the movement of the awakening residents preparing for a day yet to unfold.
Along the fog kissed river were a handful of eager anglers hoping to snag the first catch for their sleepily stirring families peaking out of the tents. In one tent was a father and son waking after a dusk arrival following the thrilling drive in from Oklahoma the prior night. In the campsite adjacent to them was a family from a little further down the highway in Oklahoma as well.
Today was trout fishing day! Of course, most campers who chose to come to this area certainly had the expectations of trying to catch some trout as they endeavored into the icy waters. However it was a first time for the young man of the Father / Son duo.
Having historically fished from boats and along river and lake banks, no waders were packed. By all reasonable contexts, how cold could that water really be right? After all, it was Summer in Missouri. After getting up and into some truly rookie-level river fishing attire, they began the highly anticipated trot across the field to the river, fish poles in one hand, and tackle boxes in the other. Upon arriving at the river bank, a sharp temperature change was tangible and only added to the excitement. As they slipped off their flip flops and slipped on their “river shoes” something told them that this water might be a little cooler than they thought. Nope, it was WAY colder than they thought! Upon slipping their feet into the rippling water, the painful cold hit their ankles. The adrenaline from the excitement was enough to subside the nerve signals saying “THIS IS COLD.” So, they ventured in to where the water was up to their knees and found two good spots to cast out and try for some trout. After about 5 minutes of casting the young man spotted an island of sorts within the rock-bottom river bed that kept the water to calve level but it was a little further out in the middle, so they crept through the cold White River water and found a nice perch to fish from. In between the hunt for the right fish, they would walk back to shore after about 20 minutes of the cold water fishing. After about an hour of no fish, they decided to call it a day. When they arrived back to camp, their feet began to have feeling in them again as the numbness from the cold water subsided. As they got a fire built up for some warmth, the fellow Oklahoma based neighbors had apparently had a much better success at the fishing and were cooking up some lightly battered, and slight trout. They had so much they shared with the two as they shared stories. Both of the young men from either family played baseball and were going to college not too far from each other. It made for a great start to the day. The rest of the camping trip was uphill from there! Hiking, tossing the ball, canoe trip, and enjoying the wonderful outdoors. This was really a week to remember!
And I have remembered it, as that was about 15 years ago with my dad and I as we had a week I will never forget. Yesterday my dad would have been 64. He is counting time with a new perspective now as he worships around the throne of heaven, as he has been doing for nearly 11 years. My dad was my hero in so many ways and he gave me attention with action and with word. He showed me love with action and with word. He showed me correction with word and action, like how to throw a baseball the right way so it hits your target right in the glove. So, here’s to my dad, the father, friend, leader, and mentor who I thank God for as I raise my beautiful baby girl. She is over 6 months old now and yes I wish my dad could hold her in his arms and she could pull on grandpa’s beard. That said, I also am thankful, grateful, and even humbled that I had such an amazing father to learn from. Happy Birthday dad.