Meridian Star

Outdoors

September 6, 2013

Us kids

MERIDIAN — Kids and the outdoors go together like ham and eggs. Whether it be fishing, hiking, hunting, boating, camping, whatever, it's fun for the youngsters. And very often there is more fun for adults if kids are along. When youngsters are around on outdoor jaunts we can spend some time with them being kids ourselves. It is great being a kid outdoors, even if you are over 40.

    When I was forty, my son John, who was about eight at the time, told me that sometimes I acted like a kid. I let him know that I took his observation as a compliment and hoped I would always spend parts of my life just being a kid again. I remember hoping that 20 years from then, I would still be able to act like kids do.

    Well, I turned around a couple of times and the 20 years passed (and more) and John told me I still do a lot of kid things. Thank goodness. Some of our fondest outdoor memories are from those days when we were kids.

    Remember when that fish made your cork disappear suddenly and almost jerked the pole from your tense grip? The fish seemed like a 20 pounder. It would have been difficult at the time to believe anyone had ever hooked one larger.

    Remember when you finally mustered the courage to pick up a fishing worm? So what if it wiggled and you dropped it. Remember that tin can tumbling at the crack of the .22 rifle? You hit it! You actually hit it!

    Remember that scary story around the campfire? It seemed so real that your young body shuddered from fright. Remember the mixed feelings of fear and adventure when you found yourself alone in the woods for the first time?  Remember the feel and the oily aroma of that first rifle or shotgun? It was heavier than you expected but that was okay.

    Remember how your heart pounded when that first buck came into view and you sighted on its shoulder and never felt the gun kick? Remember the first time you caught the biggest fish and everyone bragged on you?

    Each one of us has these and our own special moments that linger in our memories to take us back in time and make us smile. For me, some of the outdoor joys of youth never left me. I rarely cut firewood or limbs or brush that I do not notice the perfect "Y" shaped limbs of exactly the right size for making a slingshot. I save them from the fires, chop them from their tangled environment and stash them to dry. I can't pass them up. And I haven't made a slingshot in over 40 years. Well, just one or two. But they are for flushing mule deer bucks out of brushy  western draws you understand.

    I admit to searching creek and pond banks for flat rocks that can be skipped on the water's surface. I, like so many others, cannot resist wondering how many hops a specific thin rock has in it if hurled at just the right angle with my impetuous sidearm motion. When I find a nice, flat stone and no one is looking, I often find out. These days I sometimes get 4 or 5 hops to the throw. It seems that I recall getting 6 or 7 hops in my youth, but there are glitches in one's memory you know.

    We keep Popsicles in the refrigerator for our young grandsons. The other day I got myself one and licked that sucker until it was gone and my tongue was orange. And I recently found myself reading “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” and being afraid for Tom and Huck as they lay on the upstairs floor of the haunted house peering through knotholes at Injun Joe and the Spaniard plotting their deadly crimes on the weedy floor below.

    And one day I saw some doodlebug holes in some soft dust and stirred one and recited that poem we used as kids.

    Yes, it's great to be a kid, especially in experiencing adventures  outdoors. As youngsters, we knew we were having fun, but we didn't fully understand just how wonderful it was. Those of us in middle life and beyond now know. Oh how we know. 

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