Reading the River
My father taught me to fish. He loaded me, my younger brother, and his tackle boxes and rods into a tiny motorboat and we set out for the wild depths of the Ozark lakes. The first real memory of fishing days with my dad. Some of my happiest life moments with him are related to this time we spent together in the middle of a lake or river, swapping stories and silences.
He bought me a flyrod when I was in college. He picked it out himself. He’d heard me mention a couple of times it’d be fun to learn, and once I’d borrowed his gear for an afternoon with friends. I was flabbergasted—the most unexpectedly perfect gift. He took me to an empty basketball court down the street and taught me how to cast. He showed me how the line should arc over itself just before it lays out. “10 and 2, 10 and 2. Careful not to flick your wrist.” I still have the dummy fly he gave me to practice with that day.
One of the first things he taught me was how to stand in a river. You have to take it from the side, facing the opposite bank, and slowly walk through the current. If you face the current head-on, you’re more likely to be swept off your feet. With not a small amount of earnestness, he warned that anglers who get swept up like this have a hard time recovering. Their waders fill with water and it’s near impossible to pull yourself back up with that kind of weight pulling you beneath the surface.
He taught me about dry flies and wet flies, about where in the river to watch for the eddy bubbles that hint at fish beneath. He gave me books on flyfishing, sent me videos of experts explaining their craft: how to stand, how to flick, tell-tale river signs, and even making rods and flies.
I don’t think he was so much concerned with making sure his daughter knew how to feed herself via fishing, as he was with transmitting the intangibles: his love of nature, the stewardship of landscape, the reverence for wild things, the appreciation and cultivation and enjoyment of margin time, and patience, steadiness, and a sharp eye.
Fishing was an excuse to be together, just together. A safe landing space to talk about when we run out of topics, a way for me to ask him to pass down knowledge, a chance for him to share wisdom, which is really just me letting him know I love him.
This year, our Father's Day collection is inspired by such sporting gentlemen: fishermen, sailors, hunters, hikers, athletes, and more. We are eminently inspired by our father's in their many professions, passions and pursuits. We are filled with gratitude for the things we have learned from them over the years, many of them small snippets of wisdom in word and deed. Our hope is that as your peruse this collection you will find something small that sparks a memory of time spent with your dad or a memorable conversation. A small token of remembrance of good memories.
For the Fisherman: Consider a painting like The Lone Angler, Secret Fishing Spot, or Fisherman's Wharf. If he has a sweet tooth, some of tasty candy fish from Sweden to take to the lake. If their hands always come back smelling of fish, perhaps this Magic Fish Soap will help. We also have a few fly fishing books arriving next week, so stay tuned.
For the Sailor: If he is more sailor and deep-sea fisher, consider a beautiful copy of Moby Dick with a set of whale bookends. Or grace his space with this Danish Marine Painting and a brass sloop paperweight or telescope. If he is led by the stars, perhaps this letter-pressed planisphere to show him the constellations.
For the Hunters & Hikers: Give them a trusty literary companion for their next adventure in the woods from our Wilderness Writing Series. If they have a tendency to get lost, give them this morse code light or this book about How to Stay Alive in the Woods. For evenings around the fire, consider some of our over-the-fire popcorn maker and some magic rainbow fire sticks.
For the Athletes: Our brass Boxing Bell is just right to celebrate a successful match or workout. As a sport's enthusiast, consider giving him a poster of Major League ball parks. If he is competitive even at home, perhaps he would enjoy some of these traditional lawn games.
Shop our Father's Day collection.