The two swans in the photo below remind us that love is in the air. Nature has a magical way of bringing people together. Forty-seven years ago, Deb and I were married under a large white pine in Itasca State Park. We still enjoy our walks in the woods and early morning boat rides.

When mom and dad needed some ‘alone time’ – away from work and away from us, they went fishing on Lake Minnewaska. Their time together in nature was usually enjoyable and relaxing, but for the trip I am going to relate to you, even though mom found it to be somewhat relaxing and very enjoyable (in a strange sort of way), dad’s feelings were the exact opposite.

Two swans showing each other some affection, and forming a heart at the same time. Photo by Steve Maanum

All of their fishing trips began with the same friendly wager – a dollar for the first fish, a dollar for the biggest fish, and a dollar for the most fish. Dad was a good fisherman, but mom usually came home with the money. Of course dad would wink at us and say it was because of his expert guiding and netting skills.

Within an hour of being on the water, the wave action and fresh air would usually lull mom to sleep and dad would reach over and yank on her line. She’d jump, think she had a big one, and dad would laugh. He didn’t have a vocal laugh, just the silent kind that would shake his whole body. He loved a good joke – especially when it was directed at mom and he was the one doing the directing.

So, there they were, trolling along the shoreline. Dad was in his usual fishing pose and mom’s head was beginning to nod. While dad was executing a turn, mom’s line tightened and her fishing rod almost slipped from her relaxed grip. It was enough to jolt her awake and at first she thought dad was up to his usual pranks. When she saw that both of his hands were busy with the motor and his own fishing rod, she got excited.

“I’ve got a big one!” she yelled.

Now it was dad’s turn to react. He saw her rod bending, immediately reeled in his own line so it wouldn’t be in the way, grabbed the landing net, and began coaching.

“Take it easy. Keep a tight line. Keep your rod tip up.” Even though these were all good suggestions, mom was not making any progress.

“Maybe I’m snagged on the bottom.”

“Nonsense,” dad said. “Watch the action of your rod. That’s a sure sign you’ve hooked a monster.” He reached to shut off the motor and noticed mom’s line was wrapping around the prop. Sheepishly he revealed, “You’ve got the motor.”

He proceeded to give mom one of those “you should have been paying attention” looks. He lifted the motor and began untangling the line while muttering something in Norwegian. He was so wrapped up in his task he didn’t notice that the wind was drifting them in the direction of another boat anchored nearby.

Mom tried to warn him. “Herb,” she said.

“Not now.”

“But we’re getting kind of”  . . . BAM.  The two boats collided.

Startled and confused, dad looked up only to find himself staring into the eyes of a very large and very annoyed gentleman. The man’s family, all miniature carbon copies, sat, arms folded and stared right through dad.

  Dad finished unwrapping mom’s line, apologized, started the motor, and headed down the lake as quickly as possible. A five and a half horse outboard motor on a wooden fishing boat was certainly not the recipe for speed, but on this occasion when dad wanted to put the entire incident behind him quickly, the motor seemed rather sluggish.

  The collision had somehow caused the anchor rope of the other boat to get hooked onto mom and dad’s boat. Dad was now towing the giant and his family down the lake. Mom saw the humor in the situation, but to dad there was no humor, only more humiliation and one more apology. He unhooked the anchor rope and with a new surge of power, he resumed their getaway. Mom heard him mutter under his breath, “What else can go wrong?”

A loud thump caused dad to look in mom’s direction. The sudden burst of power threw her off the seat and all dad could see was a pair of legs sticking straight in the air.

Yes, dad had snagged the catch of his life and couldn’t wait to let it go. There was no way mom was going to pay him for the biggest catch. It was so embarrassing that he made her promise not to tell anyone (except us).

As you can see from this story, I never made him that same promise.

Plan a date with nature. Watch a sunrise together, go for a walk in the woods, or try fishing with that special person in your life. See if nature brings you together hook, line, and anchor rope.