Summer is the peak season for our ranch business. Irrigating, haying, the farmers markets and lambing and calving are all packed into the months between May and August. Thus, our kids get the short end of the stick when it comes to a summer vacation. I do my best to take them on adventures that involve water parks, bike rides, swimming pools, or an ice cream parlor. Things that can be done in a day. I had hoped to take them on an adventure once a week, but often other tasks get in the way.
Back in May, Dick and I promised to be better this year, that we would take the kids camping and fishing and have some family time. So, we are 'cramming' our family trips into the last weeks of August, before the kids go back to school. The trips also have to be midweek, because of the markets.
Yesterday was our family fishing trip day. I am still floating on cloud 9! Have you ever had one of those days that just makes you happy to be alive and thankful for the things you get to experience? One that will be a favorite memory for the rest of your life? Yesterday was one of those days... I'll share it with you.
Our kids have never been fishing. Real fishing. The irony here is that Dick loves to fish, but he rarely gives himself permission to take time off. We usually have Christmas, Easter and the 4th of July as our holidays, but after irrigating or feeding has been done. This trip was huge. To prepare for our big adventure, Dick has been giving Sami and Jake lessons at our pond, which does not have fish! It's used for irrigating and is visited by ducks, geese and frogs. Not fish.
Tuesday night was packing night. Fishing gear, lunch, snacks, you name it. When Dick gets his mind set on something, look out! He researched everything. Best place(s) to go, what flies to buy, etc. Our marching orders were that we were leaving Tuesday at 7:00 am. This wasn't early enough for the kids, who said 'we get up early to leave at 4:30 am for the Boise Market' (and sleep the entire 2 1/2 hours I might add!), so we compromised, 6:30 am.
Off we went! We got to the parking area and hiked in. Uphill. Straight, I'm sure. Oh man, my buns are killing me today. Everything hurts, but in 'a good way'. We got to Van Patten lake about 9am. What a beautiful place! And we had it all to ourselves. Not a soul - until about 1:30 pm. We all proceeded to gear up after a brief rest to recover from the hike!
A very Hallmark happy family moment. I haven't fished in at least 9 years. So, I'm sitting there, tying a fly, pull the line tight to get my knot, and poof! I sink the fly right into my pointer finger. Deep. All the way in. Hook, barb, etc. The hook isn't even visible. This is my writing hand. I scream. And, after a good shared laugh about how could I do such a thing, right when we get here, Dick offers to pull it out with the only tool we had - nail clippers. I did have my Swiss army knife but I wasn't offering it. I declined his offer and spent the next hour trying to get the fly out. The slow, methodical, 'I can do this without any further pain' technique, along with moments of light headedness, 2 Tylenol and an antiseptic wipe. I sent my family on their way - go fish, have fun, I'll be along shortly! I got to 'hear' my kids catch their first fish! Right away! Success! I got the hook out. I thought about taking a photo of it in my finger, but the whole 'find the camera' process was awkward. Every time I moved or twitched the hook would pull. I didn't want to take any chances. Sigh...
So! I did get to fish! I didn't catch a darn thing, but what a beautiful day. I love the 'art of fly fishing'. Playing with the line, back and forth over the water, casting, bringing it in. I love looking at the water, watching the wind dance on the it's surface. I love watching the fish swim up, check out the fly, dart away. I like the Big picture. Granitic rock, sky, pine trees, a Peregrine falcon or whatever fishing bird came in - crashing into the water to get it's catch. A breeze, and hot sun exchanged for cloud cover. Just an awesome, quiet, peaceful day.
Sami, Jake and Dick were just so much fun to watch - three kids really. It was so wonderful to see my husband having a great time doing something he loves, and watching him share that love with our children! Sami and Dick went around the whole lake, and Jake hung out with me. Some clouds came over, we had a little bit of rain. About 1:30 another couple showed up. About 2:00 pm we packed up and started our climb down. We left the lunch at the truck. Jake was upset we would not let him run down the trail. Good thing. Dick had to hold his hand, he fell down most the way. Sami fell, too. A nasty crash. Her side landed on rock. After a good cry, she got over it.
Back at the truck we had a picnic. BBQ chicken, red grapes, chips, Sami's brownies, and water. It all tasted great. On the drive home, we were tired. Exhausted. When we got home, Dick taught the kids to clean the fish, while I cleaned up. We all napped for 30 minutes. Then chores, and dinner. We had grilled brook trout, dipped in egg, spices and battered, along with zucchini from the garden. Oh, it tasted so darn good. I complemented my three fishermen. I told them I have not tasted anything that good in years. I thanked them for their skill, and for giving me a great memory. I am practically in tears. From exhaustion? Partly. Mostly, I was thankful for this day.
A conversation with my sister Paula reminded me that our fishing day was the anniversary of our Father's death. David Paul Walsh died in 1990 of cancer at the young age of 55. My gosh. I had forgotten. A first. I wonder if my emotional side was tuned in to his passing. I have spent the past 17 years regretting that he missed some milestones: he never met the man that became my husband, my wedding, the birth of his grandchildren, and how much if 'him' they have. In my heart I feel him. I sense him near me, talking to me, giving advice. I'm glad yesterday was such a memorable day for me, and in a happy, uplifting way.
The photos in the post below are from our trip.