Bruce Springsteen, Fishing and The Spirit

On the drive up we were listening to Bruce Springsteen 9-11 response album. Phineas was singing along to every word. Between songs he asked me, “is Bruce Springsteen Mormon?” I said “no, he’s not . What you’re noticing is the spirit, he has the spirit with him when he sings. It’s s a good reminder that anyone can have that special soul and share that power.” He was recognizing something familiar, good, affirming. Something he’s felt before. He’s felt it through our faith. In places he felt love, security, hope, depth. There’s a longing for Home when you listen to Bruce Springsteen. Apropos that we were headed to fish camp cause fishing with my father feels like home. It’s something you do after a long, hard day at work. Your dad asks you to help him take his boots off and you un-braid each leather tassel, unhinging each metal clasp. Dad smells like metal and sorrow and longing and love though he would never say it to me, I know he does. Soon we are in the old four runner with an orange sled for a fender because of an accident that destroyed it. With Dad’s hands he stopped and gnarled the metal with his calloused, metal flecked hands. Someone in town told him it was illegal to drive without one so he stapled the sled on. It’s routine for us, familiar, whole, reassuring. We will get in the four runner and play one of our worn cassette tapes that whir like the sound of a lathe in Dad’s hand built cabin. Fats Domino, — the sound of which lifts me to nirvana when I hear it today. Sammy Johns “In my Chevy van and that’s all right with me”…..”I’m gonna be a wheel some day, I’m gonna be some body” Fats Domino was a Mormon to me. We get to Airport Way, then it was our spot, our fishing hole. And Dad was amiable and the closer we get to the river the more he sings along “I’ve found my thrill on blueberry hill…” Dad also told me to fish for food not for sport. It’s warm in the car and I’m safe in my dad’s wing. He holds the line taut in his right hand and methodically dances the line with the current. The sinker hops on the bottom. The Kenai twitch gently at the end, like a swing step, a gentle hand persuasion asking for a dance. I watch and repeat and while he catches his limit first I catch mine too, from imitating. Every day I imitate him. I stand up tall, I focus on the hard things. I refine myself. I let it roll, like water off a duck’s back. I work on my pirouettes. He is watching, always. Pirouetting in his mind. Hoping for me, that I’ll get it. And I do. He never says too much. I say too much. Like Phineas who was just reprimanded by Moses “You don’t have to narrate every movement!”. “Yes I do. There’s the trees. There’s the cabins…” then Rainbow says, “Are those deer?” And they are! Greeting us like animals of Narnia, inviting us to our snowy weekend oasis. and I feel the City leave my wrangled veins. My lung capacity is brighter. These kids of mine, Rainbow, here for her first time, Moses, Phineas, deeply connected brothers each and together, are such a gift. Together we are whole and I feel the spirit. The gift of serenity, eternity, tomorrow, the anticipation of a bright new day when the sun will shine. This fish camp is tame, not wild, volunteers and heated cabins, home cooked meals but the good people remind me of my good dad. They tie your line over and over and let you keep fishing.  As I left home and kids left home dad doesn’t fish as much. Fish for food not for sport and I find out from interviewing my Dad’s father that my grandpa liked to fish for sport, not food. And as many fathers and sons do, they had conflict. I want to know why and how and resolve it. And Moses chatters and chatters and out here in the woods I don’t mind. Maybe it was the only place my peaceful dad could get Chatty Cathy to shut up.

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