Sunday, May 17, 2015

That Is My Baby Girl...

Today like a lot of days , I went fishing...as I was floating down the Etowah river admiring the sunset, my phone rang. My 19 year old daughter Haley was calling, she just wanted to talk and since she was close by she said she would meet me at the boat ramp. First off, the cool thing is, my beautiful daughter is riding around with a fishing rod in her car. (There is a reason for that and I'll explain later.) Shortly after I loaded my kayak Haley arrived, grabbed her rod and she and I fished from the bank until dark. We didn't have a deep conversation, we just fished, chatted and soaked in the moment. On my way home I thought about Haley because you'd be hard pressed to find a 19 year old girl that keeps a fishing rod in her car just in case she wants to fish. There is a lot that lies beneath that...a tangible reason as to why she is the way she is.
When Haley was a baby I had a bass boat and on more than one occasion I bundeled her up, put her in her car carrier, hooked up my boat and we went fishing...she was less than a year old! I've never told that story to anyone that mattered because of the risk of a negative reaction, not even her mother. Anyway, if I caught a fish I'd show it to her, I'd talk to her as if she could understand all of this fishing jargon yet she was sucking on a pacifier and wrapped up like a burrito. Thank god I never ran into a game warden! When she could walk I would take her out on Lake Blueridge with her Barbie life jacket and her Scooby doo rod and reel. We would run up the lake like our hair was on fire stopping at the various little bays where both of us would stand on the bow and fish until she was ready to change spots...she would signal this by saying, "No fish here daddy!" At age 3 I took her crappie fishing on my hunting club and on our way out there was a big old tom turkey with some hens crossing a cutover. I had all of my hunting stuff behind the truck seat so I put a camo shirt on her, sat her on a stump overlooking the cut and snuck out there and shot him. Haley saw the whole thing play out from the beginning to the kill. After her mother and I divorced the next year she spent every other weekend during duck season in the blind with me. When she was old enough she would handle Bell our Chesapeake Bay Retriever and later she would carry an old 20 gauge single shot that was my brother's. Haley...for a girl has had an unconventional upbringing. She has been my sidekick while coon hunting, she has hunted deer, wild hog and bear with me. She has camped in some of the most remote wilderness that Georgia has to offer and enjoyed every minute of it. She is tough, smart and oh so beautiful and at 19 I had thought she may be fading into just being a regular girl but I realized today that like me, nature and fishing is in our blood. We fish because... that is what we do.