Copyright 2023 by Sara Etgen-Baker
Photo of Sara's dad.
one Saturday morning when I was about ten, Dad gently nudged me from
a deep slumber. “Time to go fishin,’ Sweetie.” Reluctantly I uncovered
my face; blinked; closed my eyes; and blinked
again. I sat up, stretched my arms above my head; and yawned,
remembering how I’d pleaded with him the night before.
I go with you, pleeeease Daddy?” I begged.
me wasn’t easy, for I was squeamish around worms and water. But I’d
tolerate almost anything just to have some alone time
Daddy, it’s dark outside. Aren’t the fish sleeping?”
be awake soon enough. Get a move on!”
loaded me and his fishing gear into his pickup truck and drove to
nearby Lake Lavon where—at the crack of dawn—he launched
his flat bottom boat, the Nini-Poo, into the water. It was a sultry,
windless August morning; and the lake—flat as any mirror—lay
before us without a single ripple as if time itself had been frozen.
From the tall pines around the edge came not a sound, no movement of
branches and no birds calling.
tugged on the choke of his outboard motor and pulled on the starter
rope three times before the engine sputtered into action. We
skittered across the lake, shattering the lake’s glassy
appearance. Once we reached an isolated cove, Dad turned off the
ignition, letting the boat come to a gentle stop. He reached under
his seat; fetched his bucket of worms; nabbed one of the larger ones;
and drove the hook into the thicker end. He cast my live worm into
the water and handed me my cane pole.
the bobber,” he said, his finger pointing to the water. “When
a fish nibbles, let him have a taste, then pull.”
Daddy. I will.”
baited his own hook and cast his line into the water; together we sat
and fished for hours. From the pine trees around the lake’s
edge came nary a sound—only the sound of Dad’s breathing. For a moment
I forgot to watch my pole. The end splattered into the
water, sending dragonflies off their lily pads.
watch your fishing pole!” he said, reaching over to steady the
sat as still as the pines, as if time were suspended and our minutes
were as countless as summer strawberries. “Daddy,” I
rested my cheek against his arm, “are you SURE there’s
fish in this cove?” He chuckled and kissed me on the cheek.
my bobber zinged under the water. “It’s a whopper!”
he declared. I leaned back into his arms; we pulled together. Breaking
through the water, erupting into the glimmer of the morning
light, burst the biggest fish I’d ever seen. Dad unhooked the
shimmering fish. I held my breath, and he beamed. Neither of us
spoke; we just stared at one another. The gift of that day spent
with Dad was one of the best presents I ever got.
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
story list and biography
Preservation Foundation, Inc., A Nonprofit Book Publisher