Thinking through my "southern" series of paintings, I couldn't leave out fishing. Not that fishing is exclusively southern, because it certainly isn't. But it is definitely part of my "southern". Lakes, salt water creeks, rivers & ponds. Been there.
My dad's idea of relaxation was fishing. My dad's idea of vacation was fishing. My dad's idea of spending quality time with his kids was, you guessed it...fishing. We did a lot of fishing growing up. Thing was, though, I really enjoyed it. It is that perfect combination of excitement and relaxation. Almost meditation. I learned to fish with a cane pole and still given a choice, would prefer just that. When I was 7, I learned to "make up a pole" or rig the line on the pole using knots and electrical tape, tie on a bobber, weight and a hook. My dad was a stern taskmaster, too so I had to do it the right way or do it again.
Fishing for my dad came early. We were out before daylight, loaded up in the car with the poles sticking out the back passenger window. We had our lines in the water long before the sun came up, when there's nothing but a soft, inky black sky and mist over the water. And quiet. No sound but the water lapping, a bird calling out every once in a while and us shifting from foot to foot as we changed our position.
Once the sun was up, we would eat. A fishing breakfast was a cold coke and a pack of crackers. My dad was in his element, offering suggestions on where to cast and shushing us if we talked to loudly (can't scare the fish off). We would try his patience with the inevitable line stuck in the tree or stepping in an ant hill or arguing as kids are prone to do. Squeals of glee that came with a caught fish would immediately be met with a look of pride and approval from my dad, as if he was thinking that now us kids might actually succeed in this life. Now that we could fish. And by lunchtime we would be tired, hungry and a little cranky. We would all head home with our cooler full of fish and rest up for more fishing in the evening.
When my dad retired he built two ponds and I took my own kids down to fish with him. I never saw him so happy. All excitement and no relaxation but happy. He died when my children were still very little and they have no memories, just pictures of fishing with him. But I have enough memories for all of us.
Since my dad died, I've only been fishing a handful of times. Not for any reason really....just lack of time and opportunity, I guess. One of these days though, I'm going to head back out there at daybreak with my cane pole and my coke and crackers and see what I can catch.
10" x 8" oil on linen panel
my dad and my daughter fishing