Monday, May 16, 2016

Lookin' through the past...

Sometimes life gets in the way of living. I suppose we all know it and that’s pretty much how it’s been going for me of late. I’ve been missing some favored activities because I’ve been too tied up with tasks. And I know that I’m guilty when I’m accused of putting recreation ahead of everything else, but then, life is short, right? Even my dad once told me “you can’t go hunting and fishing all the time.” Coming from him that kind of threw me for a loop.

Well, Dad is living in an assisted living facility now and all his hunting and fishing take place only in his own mind. I’ve been working on getting his house in order and what a job it’s turned out to be. Thankfully PJ has been doing most of the indoor organizing and I can’t thank her enough. I’ve tackled the garage and it’s hard to believe the amount of stuff Dad held on to and accumulated. And while it’s a real time-eating chore there have been some interesting finds, as well. We’ve found some military records and discharge papers from both Dad and my grandfather dating back to 1917. I found Gramps’ WW1 pocket bible and a fine chrome hand warmer. There’s a front page newspaper article that tells of Chancellor Hitler sending troops to invade Poland under the fat headline “WAR BREAKS OUT!” dated 1939, and another from 1945 with the headline “JAPS SURRENDER.”

In the rafters of the garage I found old fishing rods made of steel, some telescoping and some rigid. I do remember seeing them before, but it’s been years. And a half dozen old level-wind reels, the reels I used to learn how to cast big Jitterbugs and Crazy Crawlers without backlashing. I found a few of my grandpa’s homemade decoys. Gramps used to painstakingly skin the heads of ducks and put the feathered skin on a carved and sanded wooden form, his own early method of flocking I guess, before adding it to a wooden, cork, or a coarse foam body. I remember seeing them at our duck camp when I was a kid and wondered if Gramps just chopped the heads off ducks and stuck them on a block. The one I found is still in pretty good shape and must be at least 60 years old.

The old photos are something, too. Gramps with stringers of fish, ducks, rabbits and squirrels. Him and Grandma in front of the barn with muskrats, mink, and skunks hanging from the wall.

It been time consuming and I skipped our annual spring Montana trip, plus the opener of walleye season here. But I heard the weather out west was bad and if Scotty says the weather was tough, then it was tough. Here, it snowed and blew so I guess if I had to miss some fishing, it wasn’t a bad weekend to clean Dad’s garage. I gotta say, the nostalgia can be pretty heavy stuff.

I have to make some time for the dogs, of course, and I know I'm behind on the training of my pup, Gabby, but it will come. The last couple of weeks my routine has been go to work for three days and take off two. On Thursday I get out of bed and out at the kennel 5 minutes later. I let the dogs out and give ‘em a little snack before I go in for breakfast. I might read a bit over coffee or see the news, then it’s outside again with the dogs. There might be some bird work or maybe a run through some hay fields, or perhaps some retrieving practice or we could end up just playing and chasing around with tennis balls. Then it’s to town and Dad’s house. Four days of that and back to work. It’s coming to an end and I’m eager to finish so I can go fishing!