My dad is a great believer in learning by experience. He has always said that we learn by doing, not by watching others doing. This is a fantastic way of teaching, and learning. It definitely works for me.
I can remember it like it happened just yesterday, although it really took place 57 years ago. It was July 1955. My mom, my dad, my kid sister and myself, were enjoying a two week vacation at a cottage up on Lake Skugogg.
It was our first morning. The sun was beginning to rise, and it turned the glass-like lake, into a shade of bright orange-red, right infront of me, as I was standing at the shore, staring across the lake, in awe of the panoramic view, of lake and trees.
My dad joined me as I stood there, and we were both enjoying the freshness of the cool summer air, and the majestic beauty surrounding us. I heard the screeching of some sort of animal, and my dad was quick to point out to me, that it came from a loon, swimming down the shoreline from where we stood.
Suddenly about maybe 20 or 30 feet infront of us this big fish leapt from the water and came splashing down. I was amazed because even though I’d see fish and knew what they looked like, I’d never witnessed one jumping before. I didn’t even know they could. My dad quickly pointed out to me that it was a bass.
My dad knelt down infront of me, as he often did, and asked me if I would like to go fishing. I remember being so excited. I’d never gone fishing, let alone caught a fish. With my eyes as big as saucers and a big smile on my face, I said yes.
Dad took me by the hand and we walked down to the dock, where a small rowboat sat. My dad put a life-jacket on me tied it down and then lifted me into the boat instructing me to sit in the middle seat near the oars. I sat there. He then put a life jacket on himself and climbed into the boat with me. He untied the mooring line from the dock, hauled the anchor out of the water and sat there in the back seat of the boat.
Lesson # 1 Always listen to dad and when you are not sure ask:
He looked at me and said, "Well what are you waiting for,let’s go." I didn’t have a clue what he meant, so I asked him, and he told me to pick up one of the oars and fit the steel thing into the little hole on the side of the boat. I did it and tried moving the oar back and forth to move the boat. It didn’t work. All I manage to do was to bring us close to the dock again.
Dad pushed the boat out from the dock and then told me to get the other oar and put the steel thing into the hole on the otherside. After I put the second one into place, dad said, "Okay now use both hands and try to pull both oars together at the same time.
I did it and guess what, we were moving. WOW DAD! was all I could think to say. Then he told me how to stear the boat. If you want the boat to go right, because we are rowing backwards pull with the left, and if you want to go left, pull with the right.
We rowed along the shoreline for 15-20 minutes, and my dad announced to me, this looks like a good place to try fishing. He then told me to throw out the anchor on the side near the land as this would hold us in place while we fished and we would not drift off to far, so I did it.
Lesson # 2 Fishing and Patience:
I watched my dad as he readied our fishing poles with floats and sinkers, hooks and worms for bait, wanting to learn how to do this to since it was a part of fishing and my dad described in detail everything he did, and told me he would test what I learned later.
He cast my line a ways out over the side of the boat and then handed the rod to me, telling me to keep a close eye on the red and white float and if I saw it disappear under the water to give the rod a good jerk. I asked dad, "Am I fishing yet Dad?" and he smiled at me saying "Yup your fishing son."
I sat there watching that float but it never moved. It seemed like an eternity but in actuallity it was only 5 or 10 minutes, when I turned to my dad, and told him, This is fun but when am I going to catch a fish? Dad told me that I was learning one very important lesson not just for fishing but for life too. "You have to have a lot of patience to fish and catch something." Then he said to me, "Look Dave, look at your line."
Sure enough, in the few seconds that I’d taken to talk to dad, my float had disappeared beneathe the water. "Give it a good strong jerk." My dad said to me and no sooner did I do it when the fish on the other end of the line began to swim away. I struggled and struggled, trying to reel it in. It seemed like the harder I tried, the stronger the fish fought to escape.
Suddenly, its head broke through the water and my dad told me I had a pickerel. As I continued to reel it closer, my dad got the net ready, and in a few moments more, dad scooped it up into the net. It was a marvellous feeling to have caught my first real live fish, and it was big enough to keep too. We didn’t have to release it.
We fished for another hour or so, but I caught the only fish of the day, and we rather I rowed us back to our dock at the cottage.
Lesson # 3 Always trust your Dad:
Just as we neared the dock, dad asked me if I would like to learn how to swim. I said yes immediately. So dad told me to remove my shoes and my shirt and pants which I did. This was to be my next lesson through experience. Dad asked me if I trusted him and I sort of hesitantly said yes. Dad said to me okay then, jump into the water and start moving your hands and your legs. I asked, but what if I drown, and dad told me if you trust me, and do as I tell you you won’t drown. Well I trusted my dad, so I jumped in and began splashing with my arms and legs, and in seconds my dad said see, your swimming. I hurriedly swam over to the dock and clung to it.
Lesson # 4 Trust in The Lord
Dad said to me see son I told you if you trusted me you would be okay and you would learn how to swim and I thanked him. Dad asked me, do you still trust me? I said yes. Then dad said to me. I want you to let go of the dock and remain totally still. I said but dad if I don’t move then I could drown. All he said is trust me. I let go of the dock and remained totally still and to my shock and surprise I was in only 3 feet of water and could stand up in it. Dad said to me. Have Faith and Trust in God Son. He’ll never let you drown either.
My dad over the years taught me many things, but this one day was the best for I learned 4 simple yet very important and practical lessons that have stayed with me and guided me all the days of my 62 years thus far of life.