Casting for Memories

Fly Fishing Fly Fishing1I was listening to my favorite radio show this morning, Seize the Day with Gus Lloyd, and he mentioned that he had gone fishing in Wyoming over the weekend.  For the rest of the ride home, I thought about my favorite fishing memory and how much it meant to me, still means to me.  I grew up spending my summers on the water with my grandfather.  I have many fond memories of jumping off the dock with my cousins, crabbing with Granddad (the subject of my first book), and going fishing.  Often, my father would join us if it wasn’t a weekday or if he and mom had taken off from work and were down at Grandma’s with us for a few days.  Fishing was a past time that we all enjoyed, and I still enjoy it today.

I don’t recall a whole lot about fishing with my grandfather.  We mostly crabbed, and those memories flood my mind whenever I think about my time with him.  However, I do remember how much fun we had with our rods and reels and that showing off our catch was always a big photo op!  We would lay out the fish side by side in the back yard and proudly stand next to our bounty and pose for the camera.  My mother’s photo albums contain many pictures of my dad and me posing with our row of shimmering, silver fish glistening in the sunlight.

Several years ago, my parents went out west with us to the home in Colorado that Ken and I share with several friends and family members.  Though my father wasn’t overly fond of the serpentine climbs that took us up into the Rockies, he thought that the area was one of the most beautiful places he had ever been to.  And who could argue with that?  I’ve been all around the world and have seldom seen anything more beautiful than the Alpine Loop above Lake City and Silverton, Colorado.

This particular trip took place over Father’s Day weekend, and I had planned a present for my dad that I hoped he would not only enjoy but cherish for many years to come.  Taking the whole family into Crested Butte, I announced that Ken, Mom, and the girls would spend the afternoon browsing in the shops while Dad and I took private fly fishing lessons.  Dad was so surprised!  He and I went into the guide’s shop and fitted ourselves with all of the proper gear for fly fishing and marveled at all of the flashy colors on the whimsical lures.  Never before had we fished with anything quite like those fancy flyers that were before our eyes.  We spent the next few hours with our guide learning all of the proper techniques for casting and hooking the fish that we were sure would make a hearty feast at least one night of our vacation.

Every morning and every evening for the next week, Dad and I trekked down to the Lake Fork River and stood in silence casting our lines.  What a peaceful and beautiful experience it was.  Every now and then one of us spoke, but for the most part, we enjoyed the tranquility as we cast our lines and hoped for a bite.  Alas, we never did have the trout dinner of which we all dreamed.  I don’t know if it was our technique, our timing, or our choice of location, but we were never able to hook up with a fish, excuse the pun.  We did, however, witness a stunning bobcat as it came out of the woods and slinked down to the river for a cool drink.  After a few minutes, she looked up at us with her lazy gaze and then bent back down for another sip before padding back into the trees.  Dad and I looked at each other and smiled.  No, there were no fish, but there was a story, and week of memories that neither of us will ever forget.

Never again have I passed by the Lake Fork on our way to our cabin that I haven’t smiled at the fly fishers as they cast their long lines into the rushing water.  I can still close my eyes and see the sun glinting off of the wet rocks as it filtered through the pines and aspens, the sparkling, gem-like light reflecting off of the stream, and the smile on my dad’s face as his line swished back and forth in search of a fish.  There are few times in life when we have the opportunity to just be with someone we love, not talking or watching a movie or being part of the crowd, but just being together enjoying the shared moment and each other’s company.  I’m not sure I’ve ever had any other similar experience with anyone, and I think it’s the closest thing to Heaven that I have ever felt.

Amy Schisler is the author of two mystery / suspense novels. Her first book, A Place to Call Home is in its second printing and may be purchased in stores, online, and through ibooks. Amy’s next mystery, Picture Me, was released in August of 2015 and is available in stores and online.  Her previously published children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad, may be purchased in stores and on Amazon.

You may follow Amy at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Laughing Through Life

DSC06314So many families go out to dinner together and enjoy a nice, quiet evening.  The children are seen and not heard as the adults converse over neat and tidy cocktails.  They enjoy their meal with impeccable manners, and come and go quietly and politely.  Let’s just get something straight – that is not my family.  It isn’t that my family doesn’t have manners or that they don’t know how to act.  In fact, when necessary (for example, in Church), they behave just fine.  But the truth is that we like being together, we enjoy those times that we can share a special evening together, and we definitely let loose and have a good time.

On more than one occasion, we have endured stares and dirty looks from other restaurant patrons when our laughing has been, shall we say, a tad bit too loud.  Okay, several decibels too loud.  But those nights are, without a doubt, among our favorite memories.  A few months ago, a friend invited us to a restaurant where he was playing guitar as mood music.  Afterward, he asked us not to come back next time.  All right, he was kidding, but he did have a very hard time keeping a straight face and playing his classical guitar while we were cracking up in the corner.  To be fair, the restaurant was terrible.  The service was the worst ever, and our meal was served almost three hours after we arrived, so who could blame us for getting a little punchy?

This summer, our family took a vacation to Canada.  The girls had never been, and Ken has wanted to do this drive for many years.  It was a crazy route that took us from Maryland to Albany to Greenwood, Vermont, then to Stoddard, New Hampshire as well as Freeport, Augusta, and Bar Harbor Maine.  And that was just the first weekend (thank Heaven for campers).  We then scooted up the coast through St. John’s in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Percè, Quebec City, Ottawa, Toronto, Niagara Falls, and finally back into the States with a stop in Buffalo to visit my Godparents.  More than once, we entertained waiters and waitresses as much as ourselves with our raucous behavior.

In Lunenberg, Nova Scotia, our waiter, James, at the Old Fish Factory joined in on the fun and earned himself and his restaurant a five-star rating on TripAdvisor (okay, the food was truly spectacular as well).  In Quebec City, our young, Egyptian waiter was more than amused and began spending extra time at our table laughing and joking around with us.  However, we hit our peak on the evening drive between Ottawa and Toronto.  Trying to make it to our campground before it got too late, we opted to head out of Ottawa before dinner and stop to eat when we couldn’t take the wait any longer.  Along Highway 416, we spotted a sign for Brigadoon Restaurant and decided to take a chance.  Oh my gosh!  What a treat!  The restaurant was charming, the food was delicious (I highly recommend the rack of lamb), and the wait staff was wonderful.  Unfortunately for the rest of the clientele, we were tired from a long day in museums and walking around the city, and we were pretty hungry.  Those are not good combinations for us.  Where most families might encounter meltdowns and whiny children, that combo only ups our ante of jokes, making fun of each other, and just having a good time.  The staff was great and didn’t seem to mind our good humor, which we find to be the case more often than not.

There may be some who look down on us when we’re enjoying one of those nights, but it’s all in good fun.  And as the waitress said at Brigadoon, “We’d much rather see sisters who make each other laugh than ones who fight all the time.”  Of course, that sent all of us into a fit of laughter knowing that she hadn’t been in the camper with us earlier in the day. The bottom line is that given the choice between children who sit quietly and and chew properly but don’t experience the true joy of being a family or children who stick out their tongue to show their food and laugh so hard they can’t take a sip of water, I’ll go for the latter any day.

Amy Schisler is the author of two mystery / suspense novels. Her first book, A Place to Call Home is in its second printing and may be purchased in stores, online, and through ibooks. Amy’s next mystery, Picture Me, will be released in August of 2015 and will be available in stores and online.  Her previously published children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad may be purchased in stores and on Amazon.

You may follow Amy at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com

On the Road Again

DSC00380Have you ever taken a long road trip with your family?  Movies and television shows always portray these trips as the absolute worst kind of torture a family can inflict upon itself.  Sure, everyone can get irritated with other, and someone always falls asleep and wakes up cranky, but there’s a lot to be said for spending time together in a small space with nobody to talk to but each other.

I thought about this yesterday as my girls and I were driving together on an impromptu road trip.  My oldest daughter, Rebecca, had just returned to her college from a school trip to Nashville.  Still on winter break, she was supposed to drive home in her twelve-year-old, dark green Saturn, a car which she hates but is the best car we’ve ever owned as far as maintenance.  Twelve years on the road, and over 200,000 miles, and it’s never had an issue other than air conditioning finally giving out.  But back to Rebecca… she arrived at school at 4am, texted me to let me know she was in her dorm room, and went back to bed saying she would head home around noon.  When she woke up at 11:00 that morning, she looked out of her window to see that the mountains surrounding her campus were completely covered with snow, and the storm didn’t look like it was going to end any time soon.  Her car was nestled in four inches of the heavy powder, and she dreaded the thought of driving her little car on the treacherous roads.  So, of course, I got the call, “Mom, can you come get me?”

Meanwhile, the snow was really coming down here on the Shore as well, and schools were letting out early.  I headed to town to pick up her sisters, and we hit the road.  Three hours later, after driving through some pretty heavy snowfall on Interstate 70, we made it to the campus.  For the next three hours, Rebecca talked about her trip – the people she met, the things she learned, how her deep faith had been strengthened even more.  Her sisters shared stories about their New Year’s party and the first day back at school.  I don’t think we turned on the radio even once, and no movies played on anyone’s electronics.  Though Katie and Morgan took turns nodding off, we spent the entire ride talking to each other.  Does anyone even remember what that’s like?  To spend hours with other people just talking to each other?

It reminded me of the many road trips we’ve taken as a family.  We have driven cross-country and back numerous times, to Florida and back just as many times, and to Boston and back twice.  Sure, the girls had a DVD player in the back of the van for many years, and then they all acquired their own personal devices; but many times, we talked, we sang, we played games, and we loved it.  Were there arguments?  Sure.  Did someone always end up poking, pinching, or punching someone else?  Of course they did.  But I don’t think any of our children would trade a minute of those family trips we took, car ride and all.  We always looked at the ride as part of the adventure.  Yes, we’ve seen the great Corn Palace of South Dakota, the world’s largest sandhill crane, and the world’s biggest concrete buffalo, and the girls still talk about every one of those things in addition to the many little museums and country stores we visited along the way.

What we learned on those trips can be applied to many other areas of our lives:  you have to make an effort to get along with others; you never know what treasure lies around the next bend; there’s always more than one route to get to where you’re going, so choose wisely; don’t forget to look around and to take a break along the way; keep your sights set on your destination, but know that how you get there is just as important.  If you’ve never taken a family road trip, I highly advise it.  You never know what you might learn along the way.

Amy Schisler is an author of mystery and suspense novels.  Her first book, A Place to Call Home may be purchased in stores, online, and through ibooks.  Her previously published children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad may be purchased in stores and on Amazon. https://amyschislerauthor.com/amyschislerauthor.com/Books.html

You may follow Amy at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com