It’s one of those storybook evenings here in Oklahoma. The clouds are long and low, brilliant white on their face as the setting sun inches its way toward the horizon. There are buckets of minnows and boxes of worms, fishing line notched to red and white bobbers, rippling waves that bounce the pontoons closer and closer to the sandstone shores that form the waters edge, and a father and son.
I’m here with my brother-in-law and my nephew, enjoying the silent places in a hidden cove at the north end of this watery landscape…and I’m listening as a dad and his boy maneuver through the anecdotes of life on the water, of their great love for simple fishing, and of life as father and son.
The son fishes and the father senses it is something more. There are lessons to be learned here, time slows, and much-needed patience presents itself as bobbers float and sink and rest once again. The talk ebbs and flows and eventually settles into a near-perfect stillness.
Fish come and go, released back into their murky homes somewhere beneath us, while we laugh and talk and watch all that lies before us.
The sun draws our day towards its end, and we are all better for it.
We are at an auction in a cool old barn off historic Route 66 on a clear and warm Saturday morning, just one daughter and me. The other two have decided sleeping in is way too enticing, so my grandparents, who my kids say love auctions like we love breathing, are joining us.
As my daughter and I settle into some chairs, it is still early so the cadence of the auctioneer lulls us with repeated pleas to buy it all. And that’s when our conversations begin. We think we might want a few well-worn fishing poles that remind us of Tom Sawyer’s need for such things; there’s a mystical old trunk lined with early 20th century newspaper scraps that remind us of all the stories we’ve read about secret compartments and long-lost treasure maps; and then a tiny yellowed photo of a sophisticated looking man with a gargantuan handlebar moustache, wearing a tuxedo while he holds a top hat and cane, who reminds us of a young Willy Wonka; we nudge each other at the sight of a cast iron motorcycle with sidecar that reminds us of my grandfather’s death-defying crash as a leather jacketed teen with cool black hair; and finally a rusty old west lantern that would have to accompany us on a really dark and foreboding walk through the “big woods” of Laura Ingall’s childhood.
We didn’t buy any one of these treasures, but we did find a great place to talk and tell stories. I say find these places wherever you can, especially with your kids, but be careful not to raise your hands too high in the air or nod your head at just the right moment as you talk…unless you have room in the trunk for some very long fishing poles.