By Lorry Myers
All I wanted was a little reprieve from the daily news. My husband is in tune and in touch, and I had become weary with the constant barrage of breaking coverage, political drama, and sounds of the closing bell. I hoped a little road trip to the Union Covered Bridge in Monroe County would allow us to unplug and unwind.
Instead, I got excuses. Randy fired off ten reasons why a picnic was a monumental waste of time.
“Tough,” I said. “We’re going.”
We carried our chairs down to where the Salt River flowed under the wooden bridge. The sky was clear, and I glanced at my husband, the man with ready excuses, and saw the lines on his face soften in the breeze. Once we were settled, I pulled out the picnic I’d packed: simple food that somehow tasted better than it would have at home. It was then that I noticed we were not alone.
Downriver was a fisherman standing in the riffles, tall green waders held up by suspenders. His movements were mesmerizing, and the flying fishing line flashed in the sun. When he caught a little bluegill, he raised it high as we applauded from the bank. The fish was released, and the fisherman went back to doing what a fisherman does, not caring that he had an audience, not seeming to care about anything at all.
I had my shoes off, and I could almost feel my weariness float away in the cool but soothing water. By the time I’d waded back, the fisherman had plucked his basket from the current and climbed over logs and rocks to where we were sitting. His hat was pulled low, and his hands carried the fishing pole like it was an old friend, like it was someone he loved.
“I fish for the peace and, of course, for my supper, but that’s not the main reason I fish,” our new friend offered when he stopped to reveal his catch. “I fish for my son.”
His slow voice told the story of his only child, a boy who is allergic to sunshine and can only venture out in total darkness. They had fished together only once and learned the hard way: his son will never be a fisherman.
So his father does it for him, and when the fisherman told me that, I heard the catch in his voice and the anguish behind it. I was humbled by this father’s acceptance and solution for the challenges life had thrown him. But the truth of it was, he loved to fish and fishing for his son made him feel like they were together. The water, the sun, and the tug on the line—all of that brought him closer to the son he would do anything for. There was no complaint in his story, no bitterness or resentment for his circumstance in life. Each time, his son picks the rod and bait, and the fisherman brings home a few fish and a new story. He had found his peace.
After offering us part of his catch, the fisherman left us in the shadow of the old bridge. My husband and I sat in silence, our faces turned to the setting sun, and finally Randy admitted that the picnic had been a good idea.
Randy and I came to clear our heads, and we did that. However, we were also reminded of what the news often neglects. In a world of negativity and naysayers, there are people who quietly celebrate the beauty of life. Those who make peace with the chaos treat their burdens like blessings and always find the good in a bad situation.
It wasn’t the Salt River that cleansed our spirits that day; it was the fisherman.
The fisherman and his son.