Spartan Existence

So, it’s been over a year since that comment in my last post about the renewed commitment to writing. I actually have been writing quite a lot, but only in my head where no one can read it. I don’t know whether I needed a new topic or whether it was the fear that no one ever reads my posts… I mean literally, not even my family.

What ever it was, I do have a new topic and so let’s see where it goes.

It has been a longtime dream of mine to own an Airstream, but new ones are expensive and old ones are scary. How would I know if I was getting a bargain or a nightmare? But still, I’ve looked at Craigslist ads every now and then for decades. So sometime, I think just over a year ago, I saw a Spartan Travel Trailer made in the 50s in Tulsa, Oklahoma I only found it because it was mis-advertised as an Airstream and it peaked my interest. So, I showed it to Russ and we were both bit. We looked and thought and learned. We looked some more. No, we’re not finished with the renovations on the house, not even close. We looked. We joined Facebook groups. We found great websites and lots of Facebook friendlies. For better or worse, we managed to neutralize the fear. We found an Avion. We went to Hilton Head to look at it. It was scary even for our new found bravery and we like Avions, but they aren’t Spartans and we didn’t think it was a price / condition match. We actually found several things we like. Boles Aero, Vagabond, M Class, and on and on. Trolley tops are really cool and there is some stuff out there that is just so awesome that I never knew existed. Each ad we saw represented a trade off between location, condition, price, brand and whether or not Russ could stand up in it. I had Craigslist alerts set up across the entire south east. Some how I couldn’t stop the Avion query from also giving me the frequent furniture ads by the same name.

I was up one night recently doing the late late night mucking about on the interwebs and I decided it had been some time since I had looked at actual Airstreams. I put in a search and there it was, an ad 15 minutes old for two local Airstreams, only 1 of them was a Spartan. The asking price was within reach and the wording said it was negotiable. This is the begining of something new and wonderful!

Magnificent Monarchs on St Mark’s

by Karen

Monarch Migration St Marks NWR

Monarch Migration at St Marks NWR

As I go about the business of putting a life back together, there’s nothing I’d like more than an escape to the sandy beaches of my youth. I look forward to the point when I will have enough settled to feel like I can responsibly be away for a little while. The shore is where I feel most at home, but these days “You can’t go home again” has extra meaning. Not in the sense that the physical house that was my home is gone, but more in the sense that the place that is my other home, the place where a part of me belongs, has changed. It’s not just that the barefoot casual place that was wild and accessible when I was young has been overrun with highrises and upscale brand names. It’s also that now, when I walk down the beach, there will be some point when a little hint of discomfort makes me wonder about the effects of BP dispersants, EPA waivers on paper company scrubbers and Monsanto. What persistent heavy duty chemicals am I grinding into my heels to be absorbed through my skin?

I came across this un-posted entry while going through the inner workings of my blog and getting ready to write and post on a rigorous schedule. In some ways it may seem like I’m not on target for the “new” face of my old blog, but this little piece of heaven that I first wrote about three years ago is exactly the point, so here is my updated post.

We were heading away from the Okefenokee NWR toward St. Josephs Peninsula in a leisurely “see things along the way” path when we pulled into St Mark’s NWR. We arrived as the Visitor’s Center was closing. As the ranger was walking down the ramp Russ asked “What’s the one thing we need to know?” She attempted to narrow our interests and then told us about the current state of a few different animals. She said “I don’t know if the Monarchs are still down there. I haven’t been down today.”

I missed seeing the Monarchs en masse at the end of their migration in Mexico on a visit to Leon a few years back. A case of Montezuma’s revenge kept me from heading for the hinterlands, so this was a pleasant surprise. We headed toward the lighthouse, slowing for deer and stopping to see a few birding sights along the way. I let out a little gasp when we drove by a bush covered in Monarchs. Russ didn’t see it. When he heard me he thought there was a traffic hazard.

We made it (accident free) to the light house and there they were by the hundreds. They were spread about, near and far, but no other bushes covered with the density of the first one I had seen on Lighthouse Rd. They were flying in groups, almost swarming. They were in pairs sometimes swirling around one another. At times it looked like a mating dance. We wandered around for a few minutes taking photos and the sun sank in the sky, none quite captured the experience. It wasn’t my dream of seeing them densely packed by the hectare in Mexico, but it was a little piece of the dream and because it was unexpected. There was nothing real or imagined for it to live up to, just an unexpected afternoon joy.

Monarchs migrate to and from all over North and Central America. A local event that celebrates the Monarch butterfly happens annually in July at the Chattahoochee Nature Center. The festival delights children as well as adults. It is filled with creativity, learning and celebration. There are butterfly releases, face painting and a journey through the woods that illustrates the journey of the Monarchs, last time I went there was a native plant sale in conjunction with the festival, and it was truly one of the best events for engaging children that I have attended.

Here is a link from the World Wildlife Federation here here is a tracking site and here is an article from The Economist. I’d be cautious about how that advice in The Economist is characterized though. If you share my dream to see these magnificent insects at their densest, “stampede” isn’t the way to go about things. Tourist money may well stop illegal logging, but large numbers of tourists without care can “love them to death” with as much damage as loggers do.

The only thing more wonderful than seeing this natural spectacle, would be the pleasure of taking my children and grandchildren, something that seems more at risk in the last year. This year was again a year when migration numbers have been disturbingly lower than any previously recorded lows. It has also become a political ploy, showing up in divisive “shame on you” advertising, messages and memes that tend to overwhelm, un-inform and shut down everyone and everything positive or progressive, bringing the miracle into the realm where vocabulary is loaded, real thought is suspended and nothing is sacred.

The truth though is that it is sacred, no matter how some would politify and deface it. That which is natural and beautiful is sacred, above and beyond whether or not it is recognized as such. Another truth is that we get to live in the world we create and so do our great grandchildren. So give the power to your faith and your habits rather than your pundits. Our decisions count. From the decision to re-use items rather than letting them go to the landfill all the way to the decision to step on the podium and offer up an alternative. It is all connected and it all matters.

Children Lead a Wildlife

by Karen

This week, March 15-21, is National Wildlife Week and a great time to get outside. From local and urban parks to National Wilderness Areas people seek nature to play, enjoy the view, blow off steam, meditate, pray, study or simply relax. That begins in childhood for some. In fact, some of our greatest scientists were inspired by childhood experiences outdoors, for example Richard Feynman and E. O Wilson.

It’s not just those who go on to careers in science who have important connections through childhood experiences outdoors. Outdoor recreation is connected to health and well being throughout life. I became most in tune with these connections in childhood when I chaperoned a group of middle school children on two school trips. They were pretty much the same group of children on both trips, one to Washington D. C. and the other to a nature retreat in the north Georgia mountains. The children were equally excited about both trips, but turned on for the outdoor experience in a way that I did not see in our nation’s capitol. That’s why I’m writing about the upcoming National Wildlife Week. After sharing the outdoors experience with these kids, I decided to become PTA Chairperson for the Energy and Environment Committee. In that position, I became familiar with some of the programs of the National Wildlife Federation. The programs they had then, for example, Certified Wildlife Habitats, are still going.

They also have new materials and new alliances, not just designed to foster an appreciation of wildlife and the joys of nature, but also to combat health problems like fighting childhood obesity. The NWF has partnered with the movie campaign for Where the Wild Things Are and their website features a character doll, Lanie, made by American Girls. Lanie “discovers the world in her own backyard” in her hometown of Boston. She’s the girl of the year and available for just one year.

It is good to have a special time when you call attention to things that are important, but those things are important always. So, if you can’t plan anything in time for outdoors week, or if you come by this post a week, or six months after outdoors week, the kids, the outdoors, the fun and the opportunities for learning will still be around and there are plenty of ways to get involved year ’round. Here are some suggestions from the NWF, but there is no reason to stop there. The first organization that pops into your head is most likely to be the one with which you have the strongest connection.

We plan to attend the Wakulla Wildlife Festival for our celebration. We’ll let you know how it goes!

Cumberland Island, Heed the Warnings and Go

I’ve lived in Georgia for nearing half my life now. Some of those years were just outside Savannah, so at one time I lived within a more reasonable travel distance, but still, somehow I’ve missed getting out to Cumberland Island. At least part of that has been because of the planning involved. There is a limit to how many people can visit, 300 daily, and you must make reservations in advance to take the ferry out, or come by private boat. I was passing by once and stopped to see if there was stand-by room for a day trip with no luck. A television program on the Georgia islands was aired just before a recent trip to Florida and it reminded me that I wanted to see Cumberland Island at just the perfect time. I thought that the program made one of the other islands seem a lot less developed than it actually was and I hoped that Cumberland Island was closer to its reputation. The reputation is sometimes elitist and sometimes rustic. These are not mutually exclusive features in my mind, but they are interpreted as such by many. Russ was going to Florida as well and he was on-board, so we had a plan.

For this trip we had a 4:00 AM wake up. We were driving from Atlanta to avoid an extra night in a hotel and still make the first ferry allowing a reasonable amount of time on the island. The ferry ride was a very pleasant trip.

Ferry to the Island

Ferry to the Island

It had been far too long since I had been out on the water in a boat. Paddling in a canoe or a kayak is not what I mean when I say that. Not so long ago, I had taken a ferry ride on a hydrofoil. The sacrifice for speed not worth the trade-off. It was noisy and the closest thing to a view was a GPS style map screen showing our progression. The lack made me feel closed in. We were strapped in seats, much more securely than an airplane. Not the leisurely walk on the bow that I had imagined. By contrast, the Cumberland Island Ferry is exactly what I want in a ferry. There are seats inside and out as well as up top, available on a first come basis. School was back in session, so the crowds were a small fraction of the limit and free movement around the boat was easy. The seats on top opened up as soon the sun won out in the balance between exposure and view. A slow boat with a gentle breeze and the mood for the weekend was set.

The first thing that anyone tells you about Cumberland Island is to bring the insect repellent. It is important advice that makes the difference between a pleasant trip and hell, but unfortunately, that often repeated advice, in part, fueled my delay in visiting. Being the mosquito magnet that I am, the only thing I hate worse than insect repellent is being bit because I didn’t use it. Even the hardiest resisters use it here and I think many people may avoid a place that comes with the mosquito warning as the number one comment about the visit, but the island is well worth the effort because after having been, now what I want to know is when I can go again.

Cumberland Island felt something like home, even though I’d never been there. I remember the beaches of my childhood and some part of me holds every beach up to those in comparison. These were mostly Florida pan handle beaches near Pensacola and the Redneck Riveria of south Alabama. Before hurricane Frederick hit in 1979 the barrier islands in this area, Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, had a lot of private homes rather than high rises. It was a casual barefoot kind of a place, pretty much free from expensive brands, chlorinated pools and places where sand could be forgotten. After the hurricane wiped the beach clean, big developers moved in and changed the nature of the space. So while Cumberland Island was a new experience with some different flora and fauna, it took me home and I was grateful that in the 1950s the island had been graced with few owners, little development and the foresight to protect this beautiful resource for us to enjoy today.

Cumberland Island is the most untouched and protected of the Georgia Sea Islands. It is “the one with the one with the (feral) horses”.

Horse near Dungeness

Horse near Dungeness

There is some mainland industry visible from the island, ruins from the Plantation Dungeness, a headstone marker for “Light Horse Harry” Lee, the small First African Baptist Church where John F. Kennedy Jr. was married and a few other things, but when walking on the windward side of the island (Atlantic Side) there is little to remind you of civilization.

There are many large animals like deer and alligators as well as invasive species. Here the invasive species are watched carefully and include animals such as feral horses, boar and armadillo as well as the plants that more often come to mind when one thinks of invasive species. Animals on the island are accustomed to being protected most of the time and not as shy as others you may have encountered. Ironically, the lack of fear can make it easier to scare them accidentally if you don’t respect their distance. Many animals protect us from an unpleasant encounter by being afraid and running or hiding before we ever see them. Remember that because an animal allows you to come closer is not necessarily a sign that you should. I did not see alligators or boar, but there was an impertinent armadillo that stayed in our camp-site shuffling and and rooting. It sounded like he was also making a snorting sound, but with all the rustling of the leaf litter I really couldn’t tell. I understand that an armadillo’s fight or flight reflex sends it flying 3-4 feet in the air, so even least intimidating of the wild animals could be a little unpleasant if you frighten it. Oh, and the raccoons…use the elevated lock boxes for your food as instructed by your ranger, really. We had our small trash bag high on the pole with little actual food and they still ripped it apart. I understand from the ranger briefing that a video of one raccoon on the shoulders of another reaching was taken with a cell phone.

Campsite

Campsite

We stayed at the main camp ground nearest the second dock. As we were picking our camp sites, the ranger told me he had lived in the Atlanta area recently. As Park Ranger (interpretive, not enforcement) is high on my list of dream jobs, I told him I’d make the same trade so fast his head would spin. The main camp ground is covered in a beautiful Live Oak canopy with a palmetto under-story and it has cold showers. I wasn’t alone in mine. There were frogs and a lizard. The other camp grounds are primitive.
Karen's Shadow Beachcombing

Karen's Shadow Beachcombing

Shell collecting is allowed and a little bit better pickin’s simply because there are fewer people looking than on most other beaches.
Peaceful Sunrise

Peaceful Sunrise

As we left the camp ground we passed 3 deer in the path. While we were on the boat waiting to leave there were a pair of butterflies dancing above the water together and horses in the distance. It was a nice farewell and it will not take me very long to find my way back.

I had a sample of Natrapel lotion that worked very well for the mosquitoes. I also used some spray that contained DEET when my sample ran out. I believe that the Natrapel worked best, but had a difficult time finding it again.

Editors Update: I recently attended an educational presentation at the Georgia Conservancy where Charles Seabrook presented his book Strong Women and Wild Horses and director William Van Der Kloot presented his film Cumberland: Island in Time. Both give excellent background on he history and unique flavor of the island.

Shiny Blue Water

by Russ

When Karen realized that NASA had scheduled another night launch for Tuesday (August 25) morning, she called me at work to see if I could get off for it.  I was fortunate enough not to even have to ask.  Boss man just said,”I won’t need you until Wednesday,” as we were leaving work on Friday.  We spent Saturday getting ready so we could leave Sunday morning.  Part of the preparations included getting reservations for a ferry ride to, and a camp site on, Cumberland
Island.  This resulted in the unfortunate definition of ‘leave Sunday morning’ as ‘be out the door by five o’clock’.  We made it out on time and got to the ferry with a half hour to spare.  Had a nice afternoon and night on the island, then headed out on the first ferry to resume our trip to Merritt Island to watch the launch.

Launch Pad to Right of Russ

Launch Pad to Right of Russ

We were to watch the launch from kayaks at the intersection of Haulover Canal and Mosquito Lagoon (If you look at the map here, you can see the viewing point at the green arrow, and the white circles down and right are the launch pads.  Eleven miles away, with nothing to obscure the view)  Karen discovered A Day Away Kayak Tours a few years ago(review here), and I had gone out with them once to see the manatees (Karen’s post on it).  We had plenty of time to get there, so we messed around in Daytona, New Smyrna Beach, and Edgewater, but I was so excited by the prospect of seeing the Shuttle launch that the only parts I can remember are when we stopped in to the library to check the weather and when we bought a dry bag at the local Ace Hardware and a friendly associate let us check the weather and launch status on the internet there (file under,”Things that don’t happen at Home Depot”).

The time was getting close, and things were looking good.  The only problem was one storm sitting in the vicinity, and the experts expected it to break up or move off.  We headed down to the put-in.  The official report still looked good, so we got our equipment, safety lectures and boats, then headed out.  For logistical reasons, everyone who could be placed in a two-person kayak was.  Karen and I have done well in a canoe together, but the kayak is a whole other story.  We eventually got it worked out, mostly, and I was really glad I had a partner by the end of the trip.  As we got closer to the viewing area, we became more exposed to the effects of the storm still hovering out past the pad.  The Coast Guard Auxiliary was at the end on the canal warning us not to go out of the canal because of heavy chop.  Our guide explained that we were just going to wrap around the point and pull up on a beach to watch.  We did just that, although we were exposed to the chop long enough for it to feel adventurous.  We waited in the beach/lagoon for a while, and NASA scratched the launch shortly thereafter because that storm didn’t look like it was going anywhere.  We were offered the choice of going back or turning it into a bio-luminescent trip.  I was all set to go back because my  shoulder was starting to bother me and the guides statement that we were going to chase fish made no sense to me.

Backtrack- We were not officially on a bio-luminescent tour at the start, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t there.  The dinoflagellates tend to put on a strong showing in this area- the water is right and there is very little light pollution.  According to our guides, it didn’t get any better than what we were seeing that night.  It was very strong, and for some reason it was bluish, as opposed the the usual green.  Every paddle stroke and the wake of all the boats were shown in a beautiful blue glow.  I can’t begin to describe how cool it was, and I had no idea how cool it would get. -end backtrack

Karen left the decision up to me, as she had been before.  She told me it was really neat, and I didn’t think my shoulder wasn’t going to die from a little more kayaking, so I decided to go on.  We went on around the point into a more sheltered part of Mosquito Lagoon to ‘chase fish’ and stuff.  On the way in I got some glimpses of what was to come, when the odd fish darted out of our way, leaving a glowing wake underwater, or a mullet jumped in the distance, making a bright blue splash.  I thought we were chasing fish, but we were just running in to them.   Mullet,  as it turns out, like to lay up in the shallows at night.  It’s harder for predators to maneuver in the shallow water so the mullet feel more secure.  We went to an area where it was only a couple of feet deep, and started herding schools of mullet.  It was amazing.  It was like some submarine was firing dozens of glowing torpedoes.  Mullet are prone jumping anyway, and these fish were scared for their lives.  With no way to escape down, many tried to escape up.  So the subs started firing missiles, as well as torpedoes, blue glowing water arcing in to the air and bright blue splash-downs.  We ended up chasing a few schools of fish, and almost everybody had a mullet in their boat at some point.  It was a wonderful experience and I recommend it to anyone who can paddle a boat (no experience necessary, but you have to be able to paddle.)

On the way back in, our guide mentioned that if you dipped your hand in the water, it would luminesce as it ran down your arm.  He did not mention just how much your arm looks like a Gatorade commercial, but the resemblance is uncanny.

We didn’t get to see the Shuttle launch, but we did see the Shuttle on the pad from the kayak.  The Shuttle was noticeably larger from this vantage point than from the best viewing spots pointed out to us by the Titusville locals,  so if you go to watch a launch, I’ll tell you that you can’t get a better view without being in the inside.  If you’re not down with the paddling, though, try Space View Park.  It’s dry, free, and they have live audio of the launch sequence.

Canoeing the Hooch: An Elaborate Ruse

The time/money trade off is at the heart of the challenge in making it through a span of unemployment. There are things you would like to do, and there is time to do them because you can’t spend all of every day seeking that elusive next position, but making the emergency fund last as long as it needs to is the background stress making you wonder if it is really ok to take some time for fun. We thought a canoe trip would strike the balance. We already had the canoe, it was not motorized so no registration was required. It would cost parking fees and gas. We were going to canoe the Hooch, from Powers Island to the boat ramp Northridge Parkway Parking lot in West Palisades Recreation Area so gas would be minimal and parking would be $3 at each of two parking lots. This was the same route I had taken on an outing with the Georgia Conservancy in a raft with a friend from Missouri a few years back and I knew that it was a nice stretch. Russ had Monday off, so we had a plan.

It rained all evening Sunday and the forecast called for more on Monday. We talked about the effect on the river and and changed the alarm. Monday’s weather was looking better and about mid morning I said that I was tempted to go look at the river to see what it really looked like and Russ said that he thought we might as well take the canoe while we were at it. In for a penny… The river looked just as I expected it to, fast, muddy and high. I said I was 50/50 and he could push me either way. Russ wanted to go. We had taken separate rental kayaks on flat unchallenging water together, but had never floated together in a canoe. I had been out with my father as a child, but he always made all the decisions and did all of the paddling. There is only so much you can pick up through osmosis. So I said a little more, that I didn’t have the skill and couldn’t swim against the current, only at an angle with it, but I was happy to go if he felt that he had the skill to go alone and I would help as I could. He was confident. We dropped the car and headed up to Powers Island to put in. There was a put in on the narrower east side of the island with a course marked. We decided that was the least troublesome landing to use in high water and we were off.

Once you float underneath 285 there are a couple of apartment complexes and then things begin to look remote. There are hiking trails, but not much human activity until you near the take out ramp. Traffic sounds are quieted by the tree covered bluffs. Heron, ducks and other wildlife can be seen on the river and there is very little sense over this part of the river that you are in the middle of a large metropolitan area. We were having fun and getting used to paddling together. Russ was steering and giving me instruction the way we learned in previous raft trips. I was very comfortable. The things he was telling me to do were the things I would have chosen myself and we were working well together. We sailed through Devil’s Race Course and Russ decided we should pull out and look at the river ahead. We pulled out on the west side and there was a map posted on the trail along with a good view of the river ahead. We got back in and headed downstream again.

Things were going great until they weren’t. I’m not sure what turned us over or exactly where we were. I didn’t feel it when it passed underneath me so it must have been just a tiny unexpected bump as opposed to all the more seemingly risky things that we had passed through without incident. That little surprise and boom. As soon as we came up and both grabbed the boat and Russ said “This was all an elaborate ruse. I knew if I asked you to go swimming, you’d say no”. You’ve gotta love a sense of humor that is stronger than the current.

What we learned is that we work well together while wet and that we are actually able to right a pretty much sunken canoe and get back in it under less than ideal conditions. It took two attempts. During the first attempt I didn’t raise my end high enough and it didn’t quite empty. Russ’ Chapstick came out of his pocket. We both watched it float across the space between us and then away. Neither of us said a word. Neither of us was willing to let go of flotation, paddle or canoe to reach for it. It was a strangely quiet little pause as we both watched it pass.

I got to a higher rock. We righted and emptied the canoe. He held it steady while I stepped up still higher on the highest rock my feet could find, into the center of the canoe and then moved up to my seat. I knew that the canoe would begin to move downstream as soon as Russ tried to enter the boat. I looked straight forward and tried to be the best counter balance I could, but there was no need. I couldn’t believe it worked. I had prepared myself to take another dive. Not only was I surprised by the fact that we were under way and dryish, I was also surprised by the next thing I heard. Russ said “Ok, now this will really be a team building exercise because my glasses are at the bottom of the river. You need to be my eyes.” I hadn’t even noticed. We were also down to one paddle now.

I began to look for calm water and to direct him toward it. We used the standard clock type communication…”It’s at 10:00″ and so on. To make sure there were no hearing problems I began to confirm information with my arms like a cheerleader with big arm movements, left or right when he needed to go that way, then clapped together above my head for straight ahead. We looked for the paddle as we floated the remainder of the trip and never found it. Russ paddled alone for the duration. In a small tributary on the west there was a man with his dog. The man would throw float toys into the water and the dog was playing the happiest game of fetch that I think I’ve ever seen.

We got out at the boat ramp and both felt a little rush of gratitude for landing without further excitement. The trip was a good bit more expensive than planned with the loss of the glasses and the paddle, but all things considered we really weren’t too much the worse for the wear and we’re already talking about our next trip.

A Girl’s First Fish

moonpie1My father has always been quite the fisherman. The family albums were papered with photos of the bounty that he would bring home to fill the freezer. That was before he began to practice catch and release. Fishing was and is his greatest sport and passion.

One day, as most children do, I decided I wanted to be included in the adult activities. I asked my father to teach me to fish. He readily agreed. But, I didn’t find myself in a boat very quickly as I expected to. First I had to learn to cast. I envisioned water as being a part of that learning process, but Dad had other plans. He bought me an inexpensive starter rod and reel. He showed me how it worked. Then he took a large nail and bent the pointed end around like a “p” making it into a dummy fishing lure. Dad taught me to tie a fisherman’s knot while attaching this homemade lure to the end of my line and took me into… the front yard to show me that the nail made an effective weight at the end of my line. He showed me how it wouldn’t catch on anything the way a real lure with hooks would. He told me that we would fish when I could hit a target.

I was sorely disappointed. Dad was right. The nail didn’t get caught on anything, and I could stand there all day throwing my line and practicing… alone in the front yard. This wasn’t at all what I expected. There was no trip through the forest, no boat ride, no RC Cola and no Moon Pie. I stayed there and practiced for a little while, but my attention wandered and I was soon distracted with my dolls.

I still wanted that fishing trip though. Every once and a while I’d ask and each time I did Dad would remind me to practice. Every once an a while I’d take my nail lure to the front yard for a few minutes and see if I could hit what I was aiming for.

Eventually I demonstrated the level of expertise that Dad expected ( not really all that high) and our first trip was planned at a local pond. We both sat in the sun casting and enjoying the beautiful day, Dad with his practiced elegant movements and me doing well to come pretty near where I intended. Of course, I’m sure it was a set up. I’m sure I was pointed straight at all the best spots so that it would be hard for me to miss out on catching something. Then it happened. My bobber started to bob. I had my instructions…and I had my Dad. For the most part fishing was a very quiet activity, but once that bobber started going, so did Dad. He was more excited than I was. “Careful! See! Wait! Wait! Set the hook! NOW! Set the hook! You lost him! No. No, You still have him! I thought you’d lost him! That’s a nice one! That’s a really nice one. I’ll bet he weighs 2 pounds. That’s really big for this pond. You did well.” He scooped my bass into the net and asked me if I wanted to keep it. I did. I wanted my bass for supper.

I caught the only fish that trip! I was so proud. I out fished my Daddy on my very first try and he wouldn’t have had it any other way. He was proud too and I could feel it. I couldn’t wait to go home and share the news with Mom. I ran in the back door and told her all about it in the kitchen. She was happy to, and as soon as my story was done Dad handed me a filet knife and told me to go outside and clean my fish. Eeuwgh, my nose wrinkled. “I don’t know how” was my pathetic response. So, I was promptly armed with instructions from both of my parents at once. My choices were few, I went out and cleaned the fish on the designated board underneath the pecan tree and later that night I enjoyed fresh fish for supper.

Before it was all over, I learned to bait my own hook and to clean my own fish. I learned that the things I wanted were worth practice and working for. Most of all, I learned what it was to feel my father’s delight in my accomplishments.

About Dad, his Books and some local fishing information