For This I Need My Dad

I think we were either in second or third grade. We were the only two girls in our one room grade school. That alone would have created a space for becoming best buddies, but we also loved being together.

We were both the oldest in our family and neither of us had brothers so we did farm work the same as if we had been boys. We also took a real liking to fishing in a small creek that we could get to by crossing what then seemed like a very long field.

The river was tree lined and wonderfully alive. There were places where you could listen to the sound of the rushing water and places where everything was still.

There was one place, kind of bordered by tree roots, where the water was very dark. That was a great place to silently drop your hook, with the worm you had just dug.

The day I am remembering was warm and sunny. We had taken our bicycles to the river. The fish were biting often enough to keep our interest. We were catching trout that, as you might know, have small tight mouths.

trout

Then it happened.

I felt a tug on my line and when I pulled in the fish my whole body shook with terror. The fish’s lips were all curled back making a swollen ring around its mouth.

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I knew I had pulled too hard on the line and caused this fish to suffer.

I threw it into my bicycle basket and with tears streaming down my cheeks peddled home as fast as my legs would go. I needed to find my dad. When I pulled into our driveway I saw that Dad was way out in the far field on the tractor. Stopping for nothing I continued to pedal my bike, now over the rough open field.

Dad saw me and stopped.

Breathlessly I told him that I had ruined the mouth of this fish by pulling too hard on the line.

Dad looked at the fish and said. This is not a trout. This is called a sucker. That is the way its mouth is supposed to look.

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