I begged to be included in Dad's and my brother's fishing trip and agreed to take the pre-dawn awakening in stride. I didn't want to give Dad any reason to leave me behind.
Dad rented a rowboat and we proceeded to a secluded shore of the lake. The boat bottom sloshed with water that smelled of fish so I sat sideways and rested my feet on the edge of the boat. Dad rowed while Stoney, my 8-year-old brother, lounged at the bow. His hand dangled in the water with the tips of his fingers scoring the surface. The oarlocks rattled and Dad grunted with each stroke of the oars.
Dad encouraged me to bait my own hook. He used only one worm and held it out for me to examine.
"Remember, if the fish can see the metal, they won't strike," he said.
I tried my best to copy his proficiency and when he nodded his approval, it made me feel warm inside.
"Now spit on the worm for good luck," Dad insisted.
Dad looked straight-faced, except for his right brow which curled in a telltale fashion. This always gave his pranks away and I never mentioned it to him until many years later. With no front teeth, my spitting attempt left slobber dripping from my chin. Dad turned away, his shoulders shook, and he put his hand to his mouth.
We didn't take any fish home. Fishing was never very good at Three Lakes, but at age 5, the rewards of spending the day with Dad and older brother were unforgettable.
AUTHOR’S BIO FROM 2007: Ethel Winter attended several memoir and creative writing classes through Highline College and was a member of Seahurst Writers and Northwest Screenwriters
Northwest Prime Time regularly features SCENES FROM CHILDHOOD. This “scene” originally appeared in the June 2007 issue of Northwest Prime Time, the Puget Sound Region’s site for celebrating life after 50.