The Wind In The Trees
By: Len Harris
It was late September. I was 5 years old. I remember the day vividly. It was the day I became a trout angler. I had gone with dad many times before that year. All of the other times were TRAINING.....This is what he called it...
Training entailed many things. One was carrying my dad's extra rod and me constantly asking dad: "When will it be my turn to catch a trout?" Dad would always reply: " It will be your turn when you learn the ways of an outdoorsman." And one of those ways you haven't learned yet is to be quiet, and feel and enjoy your surroundings." "The trout can hear you talking."
At age 5 my patience and attention span were in the negative numbers. I would lose focus sometimes and pick up sticks and throw them in the water or beat trees with them. My dad would just stare at me and roll his eyes. By the end of that long year of TRAINING....I was ready I thought.
It was late in september .The shadows were long on the water. My dad had me sit down streamside. Dad said: "I want to see if this year of training has sunk in." "Tell me what you see and hear." It seemed like a really stupid question to me. Dad said: "We are going to sit here until you tell me what I want to hear."
I thought hard about all the things dad had been saying each time we went out this year. I thought what the heck...I will give it a try.
I see the water. I see the trees. I see the trout on the stringer. I see the BIG trout on the stringer. Dad gave me that stare and rolled his eyes again. He said: "Have you not learned anything this year?"
"Fishing is like life, if it comes too easy you will not appreciate it." "Many times we went fishing this year and caught nothing." "Was that an OK outing son?"..."Before I could answer. He exclaimed: "Of course it was!" "Fishing is more than catching BIG fish." "It is being out in nature." "It is the feel of rain on your face." "The smells.....Seeing and feeling ....... "The Wind In The Trees.",
I am not promising you a big trout here. I am not sure we will catch anything, but when we leave here, you will have experienced something special. Trout fishing. Fishing, not catching."
I believe my dad started a little too early in life training me. It never did sink in. I was always amazed at the BIG trout and bummed about the less than fruitful outings.
My training was cut short in November of 1967. My teacher was unable to continue his lessons. Dad died of a heart attack. I was 10.
My fishing trips were alone then. I pedaled my bike out into the country and I tried my best to be just like dad. I was always after that next big trout.
Some of the time I would sit streamside like we use to do......I would look and listen and smell. It just didn't sink in. I had a hard time grasping what my dad had meant.
Adulthood did not change me much. I didn't need the bike now and my trips were farther away and more frequent. On June 3rd 1989 my life changed completely. I married my beautiful wife Barb. My trips to the trout stream became less frequent and they took a serious decline when my daughter Anna was born.
I hurried Anna to become an angler. I took her out at age 5 to trout fishing. She became a mini-me. She was as crazy about the next BIG fish as I was. At age 11 Anna told me that she wasn't going trout fishing with me anymore. She had fished for 6 years now and it was time to try something else. I was devastated. I had to leave the room when she told me.
I went back in the house later and talked with her momma. I asked Barb what I had done wrong? She said I was a little too intense with Anna and way too critical. Barb told me to give her time. She would ask me to take her again.
It was the last day of trout season this year. Anna came up to me and asked me if I would take her trout fishing. I was so happy to hear her say it...I had to turn away from her...I got misty eyed.
As we left to go....I thought about what my wife had told me..."too intense...too critical...." I thought back about my training from my dad. I needed to incorporate those lessons into our outing. I didn't want my only child "Anna" to dislike trout fishing.
We got out of the car and went to streamside....I was about to tell Anna I was sorry and that I would be less intense and would make trout fishing less stressful. Before I open my mouth with my speech Anna spoke up:
"Dad, I really missed trout fishing with you." The smells...the feeling of rain on my face and..... The Wind In The Trees."