I remember one trip with crystal clarity. We started out early, Dad loaded all the fishing gear, and cans of worms in the back of his old yellow pickup. This truck had a spirit all it’s own, and Dad loved to play games with that. He had named the truck Sheasta, as in She-Has-Ta have gas, she has to have oil, she has to have water, and so on. Often we would take this theme and run with it, letting our imaginations go wild, as Dad sat over there behind the steering wheel with the most devilish grin anyone has ever seen. He seemed to love doing things like that, get us us started on a thought and letting our imaginations go wild.
We drove out of town, and headed up toward Nine Mile Creek. It was important to dad to get as far away from any other people as possible, so we could enjoy nature without interruption. Naturally, he would drive as far as he could, usually getting stuck at least once. Pushing old Sheasta just as much as she would take, then breaking out the shovel, come-along, chains, and go a little farther. Once he thought we were far enough in, he would park the old girl, and we would set off walking deeper, looking for the abandoned and lost wilderness.
This particular day we got stuck two or three time, and ended up helping Dad dig old Shasta out or hooking up the come-along and chain to a tree to pull us out. I think it was important to Dad to teach us never to give up, and just keep on pushing, finding a way that might not be obvious. Lessons that have served me well throughout my life. Anyway, after walking in for untold miles, joking and laughing all the way, we found ourselves among the most serene setting of willows, aspens, and beaver ponds. Dad would spend a few minutes getting us all set up, each with their own pole, can of worms, and “secret” fishing hole.
I can’t remember him doing a whole lot of fishing, I suppose he couldn’t. What with making trip after trip to each one of us to see what we caught, and chat for a few minutes. I’m not really sure he even liked fishing, I think it was just an excuse to get us out there, all to himself. He spent hours, just going back and forth, his stamina was amazing. Always with a cigarette dangling out the side of his mouth, giving him a crooked grin.
Around lunch time, he would collect us all up, and find a nice spot under a big pine tree, or grove of aspens. Pass out the sandwiches he had made long before we even woke that morning. Always there was a can of fruit cocktail, and never any spoons. No problem, he would open his pocket knife, always kept sharp by frequent use of his wet stone, and start carving out spoons from sticks or branches of the trees. He always made some kind of remark about how you can make just about anything you need, if you just let yourself be creative, and think.
We fished all day, until late afternoon, each catching our fair share of fish, then started the trek back to Sheasta, and the long trip home. On this day, my sister got stuck in a peat bog, and Dad had to get her, and then rescue the shoe she lost in the bog. By the time we got back to the truck, he was covered from head to foot in mud, heavy, dark black, stinky mud. It didn’t matter at all, he still had a grin from ear to ear.
These are the memories I cherish, that warm my heart, even to this day. I suppose they always will.
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“To look backward for a while is to refresh the eye, to restore it, and to render it the more fit for its prime function of looking forward” – Margaret Fairless Barber, on nostalgia, via Quotationsbook.