I am not one who easily misses or overstates the obvious….I am a lucky man. I was reared by two good, caring and wise people. Through the years my mom and dad have placed in me a few of their many qualities and the love for the outdoors is one of them. I love the line from Dan Fogelberg’s song “Run For The Roses.” It says…”From sire to sire, it’s born in the blood, the fire of a mare and the strength of a stud.” I am quite certain that I got a bit of both from my parents and without either part I wouldn’t be who I am today.
Walking in nature has always been a part of my life. I remember at a very young age following my grandpa Carl around our farm in Stanford and early on I was interested in birds, fish and all critters in general. We would walk to and fro from the barn to get cattle and back….up the creek and through the hayfields and it was here that I remember feeling at peace.
Following my dad was much the same…I didn’t know it then but those walks were etching in me the love for very simple things in nature. Much of our time was spent walking in pursuit of rabbits, mushrooms, picking up bales of hay, getting to creeks, lakes and just being in a place where one could notice the goings on of animals and of Mother Nature.
This past Saturday, June 25th found dad and me, once again, on a long walk together. The day was not filled with lots of fish catching…in fact had it not been for one lonely smallmouth bass I wouldn’t have even set the hook on a fish. What it did have a was an air of familiarity…dad and I together; the difference is that Father Time had reversed the roles from my childhood and on this day I was leading and dad was following, chair and walking stick in hand as we clambered down a beautiful stretch of a southern Indiana creek under the auspices of fishing but with a secondary motive of time together.
Through the years dad and I have hunted together in parts of Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota, Nebraska and Wyoming…along with some fishing in the past few years in Missouri. This has given us some quality time together to see nature at its best and worst; time to talk and time to listen, time to eat together and time to discuss politics, through it all we have remained best of friends and it isn’t everyday a son gets the chance to say that about his dad.
I was a little nervous about making our long walk this past Saturday as dad is quickly nearing 80 years young and if you have ever walked a cold, slimy creek you know that there are some areas that even a young 49 year old like myself might struggle with…but dad pushed on and with his chair slung over his shoulder wasn’t ever too far behind. He sat for over 30 minutes in one spot, sun shining through the woods, watching as I bemoaned the fact that I couldn’t get the big smallie to take my fly. When I finally did entice this beast to pick up my purple wooly bugger it lasted all of two seconds before he gave me the slip and it was then that dad provided some sage wisdom…he sat quiet, knowing that I would, one day, get this big fish to hand.
I took some time to snap a few photos. I even switched the camera on to video and shot a minute or so of dad slowly walking the creek. It is a perfect piece of video (see below) that I will long cherish…for it shows how much he enjoys being out, being a part of the natural world.
If you, like me, are blessed with great parents, then applaud your blessings and cherish it while you can. For those of you looking to pass on a legacy; no other effort will pay off with such great dividends as introducing your kids to the outdoor world and all it offers. It is my solemn hope that you too can take a walk with dad as you Enjoy the Great Outdoors.