Memories of Father’s Day and fishing

This weekend, many celebrated Father’s Day.

The holiday is full of memories and traditions, including Jim Lane’s beautiful tribute column to his dad that is printed in the Mirror each year.

For some families, Father’s Day means a day at the ballpark; for others, it’s a backyard barbecue. For my dad, Father’s Day meant fly fishing.

An avid sports fan and outdoorsman, my father savored every season. In the fall, he loved to hunt and watch football at any level; in the summertime, he followed baseball and NASCAR and cut firewood; and in the winter, he’d pass the time on projects like building a black powder rifle, or tying flies which were carefully cataloged in metal cases awaiting the springtime.

And every Father’s Day, his gifts would usually have something to do with fly fishing.

This time of year, he’d go to work in a suit and tie, gear in the back of the truck, then change clothes at day’s end and fish the creeks and streams from Williamsport to Wyalusing, extending his 90-minute drive home to well after sunset.

As a young person, I couldn’t really understand his passion for it. He would come home, sometimes with no fish at all, but contently recall seeing a doe and fawn along the water, or a family of ducks, a bear or a bald eagle.

He studied the sport while collecting books, firs and feathers to tie flies. And then he studied the fish: their habits and tendencies. But he also felt that this sport had a higher purpose.

He loved the movie “A River Runs Through It,” which portrayed the connections made between fathers, sons and brothers along the water. He spent many afternoons with his best friends on quests to find new favorite fishing spots.

He also used the time to think, to plan, to recharge, and to find peace. The river was a refuge from the busy-ness of everyday life. He loved and appreciated the outdoors: the foliage, the wildlife, the quiet.

He would say that fly fishing was a discipline that required skill, but also patience, persistence and thoughtfulness, like so many challenges in life.

The last time I saw my dad was Father’s Day 17 years ago. He was talking about going fishing. And not a day goes by that I don’t think of him and remember something that he taught me on a ball field, in the backyard, or along a river.

In a world that seems to spin faster and faster all the time, the solitude of a stream is something most of us could probably use.

I like to think of my dad this time of year in an especially-heavenly place: along a pristine Pennsylvania stream with his good friend, Ray Raffin, enjoying the outdoors and trying to outwit the fish until the sun goes down.

Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at kellie@bedfordcountychamber.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.

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