Monday, December 10, 2012

Essay by Lindsay Theobald

The Fisherman and His Babies

I was unaware of the amount of photographs that my parents took when I was younger. Looking through the old book of pictures I realized that they enjoyed capturing pictures of their children even though I looked very strange up until I was about three months old. I had huge blue eyes that did not fit my face and a tuft of hair on the top of my head that stuck up no matter what because of my double cowlick. Maisie, my sister, was the cuter child. While looking through I came upon a picture that was taken on one of my first days home after I was born. The lighting seems like it was taken just after dinner. My father had evidently just come back from fishing and is holding the catch of the night in his left hand and me in his right. The fish is hanging with my father’s finger poking through the poor fish’s gills and through its mouth. I was swaddled in a Pepto Bismol pink onesy and a white blanket with multicolored hands and feet prints all over it. I still have that red new-born tint to my skin and the pink outfit only accentuates the unnatural color. My father is wearing a green, red, and white plaid shirt, which I was later informed that he still owns. He is wearing khaki shorts, and he has his distinctive argyle socks on. He has worn them his entire life, because his mother made sure that he always wore argyle socks and his brother wore white tube socks, so they were never confused when sorting the laundry. My father refuses ever to wear socks other than the brightly colored, flashy socks that he has always worn. He is also wearing bean boot moccasins. He is convinced that his friend “borrowed” them at some point and has not seen them since. Through the open collar of his shirt you can see a necklace. It is made of pink and purple plastic beads that I am guessing my sister made for him. He is wearing his hair parted to the side like when he had more hair, and the wire frame glasses he wore throughout my childhood. When posing for pictures my father doesn’t fully smile and he has his half smile camera face on in this picture. It is quite hard to get my father ever to laugh heartily.
     In the background is part of our yard in New Hampshire. It has changed drastically since this photo was taken. My father planted as many hemlock saplings as he could find in the woods around our property near the road so we would have more privacy. An area for a garden was sectioned off right behind him in the picture where we have not planted anything cultured in years, and we let the wild flowers grow inside its borders. The foxgloves are still part of our yard. They come back every year, and they accentuate the stone wall behind. The picnic table that the fly-fishing rod is resting on was moved to the other side yard and has slowly started to decay over the years. The giant birch in the background was cut down a couple years ago when our neighbors decided to remodel and pretty much rebuild their entire house.
     When you look at the photograph you just see a man holding a small child and a fish, surrounded by tall trees; but the story behind it makes it special. My father wanted to show how small I was in comparison to the small trout. He wanted to hold me upside down and then cradle the fish, but his common sense kicked in and decided that would not be the best idea. This picture encapsulates my childhood in one moment. I remember spending summers in New Hampshire playing in that yard and running wild through the trees. We ate trout that my father had caught as often as we could. It was my favorite food for a long time. For a while it was the only food that I would eat. My father wanted and still wants for me to learn how to fly fish. He took me out one night when he went to catch some trout in the lake. The night was perfect for fishing. We caught about twenty fish altogether, but we only brought home two. The two unlucky ones flopped around in the boat until they finally suffocated in the air. I refused to touch them even when we returned home. They grossed me out. They were dead, slimy, sticky, weird looking, and had glazed over eyes. I felt guilty for taking their life which seemed as happy as a fish’s life could be, until we came along. A couple years later my father convinced me that fishing again would be fun. We went out onto the lake. The conditions were not as good as the first conditions, and we did not catch as many fish. We finally caught one and I, being naïve about fishing, did not realize that the “most humane” way of killing a fish is to bash its scull in. After experiencing how our food comes to us first hand, I learned to cherish the animals we eat more.

     Looking through the photos I saw pictures of times before I was born and pictures of times that I cannot remember, but I still know most of the surroundings and people in each of the photographs. It seems like a lifetime ago that they were taken. My mother and my father both look so young, and my sister was in the phase where she refused to smile at cameras and had a doe-like expression on her face. When looking at the picture of my father and myself, I feel safe and content as I imagine I did at the time the photo was taken.


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