Saturday, June 21, 2008

Of fishing line and ceiling wax and other fancy stuff

I've been out of the loop for a couple of days, primarily because I needed some time away from the computer and in part because I was busy.

Gary and I had a great time camping,but neither of us had any luck with fishing. I caught a couple of trees, two old men, and a husband, but his wife made me put him back (ba-da-ba-bum). Actually I did catch someones long lost lure, which came in handy when Gary lost his to the lure eating tree across the stream from us. The tree looked like grandmother had decorated it with fishing tackle for Christmas and decided to just leave it up for the rest of the year.

Still, it was relaxing, concentrating on the simple repetitive action of casting out and reeling in, watching the trout occasionally half-heartedly dash after our lures. I glanced down the bank at Gary, perched on a rock doing the same thing, his long lean form still, his face peaceful as he studied the water. He was clearly in the same place I was. I guess we caught on to the Zen of fishing, even though the fish were clearly taunting us, tempting us to use corn ($500.00 fine according to the nice campground host who politely stopped my husband from heading down to the water's edge with his baited line--which we really appreciated as a conservation agent wouldn't have been so nice), scented bait ($500.00 fine--also according to the nice campground host), live bait ($500.00 to the nice but pushy campground host) or at least something that didn't have feathers on it like a lovely rubber worm (also a $500.00 fine as stated by the annoying man who didn't seem to recognize when he'd overstayed his welcome). One trout a point of leaping out of the water just ahead of my line occasionally, and I'm pretty sure he burbled something about his brother Darryl, but I wasn't quite sure.

Putting up our rummage sale tent was an adventure in guesswork. It came with forty-thousand bits of tubing and two miles of tent fabric, one brief set of instructions that forget to tell you not to try and put the thing up in the heat of the day because you'll just wind up cussing and stomping on it and that won't help. I'd have felt worse about my display, but I glanced over at the couple at the campsite next door and noticed that their tent came with eighty-thousand bits of tubing and four miles of fabric. And, while I didn't see any cussing and stomping, I did notice the husband, whilst bearing an ax, standing over the crumpled mass demanding that it construct itself into some semblance of a tent or it was going back to the manufacturer's hell from which it came. His tent didn't go up any faster for the threat, though I noticed that it stood a lot straighter than ours did (probably afraid to sleep--actually I was too after that).

We ate hamburgers and chips and salsa and listened to the 4-Hers sing camp songs in the dark, quietly mouthing the parts we knew and smiling. Party animals that we are, we were in bed by ten o'clock, about the same time as the kids were.

As we drifted off to sleep, snuggling together under a sleeping bag and my Indian blanket, Gary waxed philosophical, as he often does when we get away from our daily worries.

"Do you suppose," says my brilliant husband with the BS in Philosophy and Religion, "that somewhere out there in the dark there are ghosts gathered around a camp fire telling people stories?"

I had no answer to that. Largely because I was laughing. I think that's the first time I've giggled myself to sleep.

The next morning I got up and made coffee and watched the kids from the 4-H camp troop by with their fishing poles. I resisted the urge to wave at the boys for fear of embarrassing them and was rewarded with half-hidden surreptitious flutters of fingers as they passed.

Gary climbed out of the tent, which had miraculously stood the entire night without collapsing on us. He watched the boys struggle with casting. Then he mightily resisted the urge to rush down and help them. Mostly he wanted to put corn on their lines so that they could catch something, He was just sure the kids who did catch something were cheating and he wanted to help his boys cheat too. But I reminded him of the $500.00 fine that we'd been warned about by the nice little man who meant well (everyone is nice during the first hour after my first cup of coffee).

It's strange to watch your own kids from a distance and be unable to help them and then watch them be okay without you. It occurred to us that they are often okay when we don't know about it. And that they are growing up and doing exactly what we want them to do, which is become independent thinking people.

Today when I picked them up, the staff member greeted me and told me that she'd gotten a big kick out of my youngest. He hadn't wanted to go swimming the day before and she'd asked him why. "I just don't feel like swimming," he'd replied.

"Okay," she said. "I'll be at the cabins, you can hang out with me."

He'd wandered off and puttered around at a craft table, sat under the trees, and lay in his bunk and then he came back to her later on and thanked her for letting him stay behind. "I just needed a little peace and quiet," he said.

She chuckled and commented on how he seemed to think about everything to the point of over-thinking it. Yes, that would be Sam.

The boys had a great time of course and were full of stories on the way home.

When we got back, I went out to the garden to weed it and Sam came with me to replant his beleaguered sunflowers (too wet and cold for them, I think). We talked at length about plant life and crops, and organic gardening, and drainage. Sam is obsessed with growing fruit trees, a subject I know nothing about, but he's been reading about them. I now know what he knows. When he finished planting his sunflowers, he turned his attention to my green beans and replanted a few that haven't come up. I weeded extensively, attacking the paths between the hills, hacking at roots and pulling up the more stubborn ones, and was dripping sweat.

Sam disappeared into the house to get a container to pour seed into (the packet had torn). When he returned he had a tall canning jar full of water.

"I thought you might want this," he said.

"What about you?"

He waved it off. "I'm fine, but you looked like you might need it."

He was right. I didn't realize how thirsty I was until I drank the entire jar of water.

He took the jar and set it back at the edge of the garden and asked me if I'd like to grow rose bushes next year and asked me to explain how to go about doing it.

Sometimes I'm not sure who's teaching who.

All in all, it's been a good week with a welcome break in the action. I think we'll try more of that fishing stuff and take the boys along, though from here on out we'll stick to Table Rock where there aren't any restrictions or helpful campground hosts.


Scotty said...

Can't beat a back-to-nature camping trip for good quality together time.

I go off on my own quite regularly and one of these days, I'm gonna have someone to share a meal, a campfire and a sleeping bag with.

If she farts, she sleeps outside though.


Mary O. Paddock said...

Hi Scotty,

I prefer camping to dinner out.

I hope you do, Scotty. :)

Anonymous said...

How old is Sam? He sounds like my little man.

Mary O. Paddock said...

Sam is nine, the youngest of four. We forget he's growing up sometimes and are inclined to baby him a little. Fortunately, Sam seems to have a built in sense of self that doesn't allow for more than a little of this.

Of the four boys, he's been the easiest--the most anxious to please, the most driven to "get things right". I am dreading adolescence. Surely the other shoe will drop then. :)