Ed Esposito of Girard has a framed watercolor painting hanging in his family room. After all these years, he still has it. The painting depicts the silhouette of a father and daughter standing in front of Lower Girard Lake. They're fishing. They're laughing and making memories and not really catching much. But that wasn't the intention, was it?
Ed Esposito is my dad. He and I used to walk from our house to the lake to go fishing. The walk was half of the adventure. Crossing Tibbetts-Wick was not difficult; it was not the busy road that it is today. Walking the tiny pathway through the woods with our tackle box, bucket and rods was easy, especially considering blackberry bushes ripe with fruit dotted the way.
Suddenly the wooded path ended and we found ourselves in an open field ... of quicksand-like mud. We'd race across at full speed, encumbered by our heavy load, hoping all the while that our boots would not be yanked off by the sticky goo. Finally, we'd arrived at ''our spot'' by the lake.
I enjoyed everything about fishing. I liked digging up worms in the garden before the trip. I didn't mind sticking them on my hook, even the long, wiggly ones. I loved the excitement with each and every tug of my line. The casting in just the right spot, the jerk of the catch, and the careful removal of the shimmering fish from the hook all made fishing a hobby I was quick to adore.
Yet looking back, the best part of going fishing was the time I got to spend with dad. We didn't have deep conversations about my hopes and dreams. We didn't talk about how I'd misbehaved earlier or that C in math. In fact, sometimes we didn't even talk at all.
I never tasted a single fish that we caught, if we actually caught more than one. But the experience has stuck with me, just as my painting has stuck with dad. Now it's my turn to take my children fishing. While the adult in me wants to catch a big fish to fry, the kid in me just wants the adventure.
Girard Lake is closed, but there are other places to fish, including Mosquito Lake. Summer's almost over, so now is the perfect time to make memories with your kids.
Remember that young children should be watched carefully and continuously when near any amount of water. Even small children can fish, but you may have to bait their hooks and even cast their lines. Older kids might enjoy the challenge.
Don't pressure your kids about technique. Fishing is fun. Don't make it like school or chores.
Kids don't have the patience or attention span to sit in a boat all morning awaiting a bite. Don't go to where the big fish are; go to where the fish are biting. Try to make their first experience one that will help develop a love of fishing that lasts a lifetime. Pack a picnic lunch. Walk in the woods. Take photos.
Fishing is the perfect opportunity to connect with your kids. And maybe, just maybe, they'll paint you a picture that you'll have hanging on the wall long after they're grown.
Harley is a Howland resident. E-mail her at email@example.com.