Idon't recall doing this so much when I was younger -- I probably should have, but didn't always take the time.
In the old days, I guess, they called it "stopping to smell the roses."
I certainly found pleasure in life, enjoyed much of what I was doing and who I was spending time with. But I didn't spend much time thinking about it because I was too busy doing it.
But this time, perhaps a product of getting older or a moment of melancholy, I asked myself what I'd done or experienced in the past year or so that I enjoyed most.
Frankly, it was a tough year. I put my mother in a nursing home early in the year and then spent much of the next six months sorting through her personal possessions. Tedious work.
And on top of that there was all the regular "life" stuff we all deal with at one time or another.
So I guess I was trying to recall a couple joyful moments in my life. Recent ones. What made me laugh? What made me smile? What made me happy to be alive?
There were a bunch. But the one I kept coming back to again and again, was the day I taught my granddaughter, Anya, to fish.
I used to fish a lot -- trout a little bit, but mostly bass fishing.
And I was an avid fisherman when I was a child, pulling crappies, sunfish and perch out of the west branch of the Codorus Creek, which ran right through my grandparents' dairy farm.
Anyway, I hadn't fished in at least 20 years. I still had all my fishing gear, but it was stashed away in the garage, alongside my golf and bowling equipment, which I haven't used for more than 20 years, either. All of it was out of sight and out of mind.
But then my son-in-law called me to say Anya really wanted to go fishing at the lake in Bushkill Falls, where they'd rented a house for a week's vacation the end of last summer. And I was invited along. Stephen wanted to know about fish licensing requirements and whether I could bring along some fishing equipment.
Of course I could. So I rooted through my fishing stuff and put together a short rod and spinning reel combination I thought a 7-year-old could handle for her first fishing experience. All we needed were worms and some half-decent weather.
And we got both. It was beautiful. Anya was over-the-top excited about learning to fish. First I took her to the small swimming pool behind the house and taught her how to cast the line out and reel it back in. A half-hour later, we were ready to try the real thing.
It's not so easy to fish as one might imagine. I mean, yes, the waiting part is relatively easy, but baiting your hook and casting your line without becoming entangled in it is another matter.
But Anya dug right in. She is sort of a girly-girl, so I wasn't sure how she'd react to having to handle worms, tear them in half and bait a hook. Nothing to worry about, she was a trooper. Worm guts on her hands didn't seem to bother her at all.
So she baited the hook and cast the line out maybe 20 feet, a good cast off the dock we were standing on. I told her all she had to do was keep an eye on her bobber -- that when she saw the bobber bobble, she should set the hook.
And as luck would have it, the first strike came within 30 seconds or less. The bobber moved, she yanked the tip of the rod up about a foot, and the fish was hooked. Her dad stood right next to her, but she did all the work. She reeled it in, and there was an eight-inch crappie on the end of the line.
If it had been a whale, Anya probably couldn't have been more excited. She posed for pictures, of course, so it's documented for all time.
Then we took the fish off the hook and released it back into the lake. And she grabbed another worm and did the whole thing again, and again and again.
Sometimes she caught a fish -- mostly crappies and perch -- and sometimes the fish ate the worm off the hook without getting caught. And a few times, we got the line all tangled up and had to stop fishing long enough to fix it.
Lessons to be learned all over the place. Fishing lessons, of course. Life lessons, too.
And she had a smile on her face every second for a couple of hours.
I don't know if she would have bought into the old fisherman's motto -- "the worst day fishing is more fun than the best day working" -- but it was a start.
And looking back on it, it was the most enjoyable experience I had last year.
But here's the best part: I have more grandchildren coming along. They might want to learn to fish, too.
And I'll be ready.
That kind of fun doesn't come along every day.
For them, or for me.
Sports columns by Larry A. Hicks, Dispatch columnist, run Thurs days. E-mail: lhick email@example.com.