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Re: [at-l] hardly trail related

This is SO trail related.  Please, PLEASE send it to ATC for the AT News.  
Send pictures, too:  your boots; your Dad; you; your wedding -- let 'em make 
a collage, maybe.  atconf.org.  I'd just do it myself, but it's your call 
and the pix would add a lot.

Dad had us give the garter snakes the run of the Victory Garden and Mom 
hauled us out to the forest preserve to hunt down the spring wildflowers as 
fast as they arrived.  I stepped comfortably over black snakes and chatted 
with the spring beauties as I hiked last year.

Anybody else got stories for the campfire?

Just Playin' Jane

>From: hopefl@juno.com
>To: at-l@backcountry.net
>Subject: [at-l] hardly trail related
>Date: Sun, 22 Aug 1999 15:28:32 -0600
>This is long and just possibly, but most likely, not trail related so
>feel free to delete.
>I was cleaning my boots and decided to check the condition of an older
>pair I have. I'm a pack rat I guess. I got to wondering how many pair of
>boots I've owned and why I get (in the words of my wife) emotionally
>attached to them.
>There is a larger connection represented by my boots, a connection to a
>world within a world, one that I do dearly love. Some time back the
>question was asked as to why we love to hike, how we came to love the
>woods.  I was introduced to the "woods" by my Dad. We used to walk over
>our fields and pasture and woods, just to walk over them. He imparted so
>much to me that as my years unfold, I am still discovering that I
>developed this attitude or that one because of my father's influence.
>When I was in fourth grade, my Dad got me a pair of "combat boots." We
>bought many of our work clothes at a dry goods / hardware / feed /
>military surplus store in our community. The boots he got me were just
>like the ones he wore, some he had brought home from WW2. Mercy how I
>loved those boots, I was crushed when I finally out grew them.
>On one of our walks along the creek on our place, I asked him if he wore
>those boots in the war. After a pause, he just quietly answered no and
>let the subject drop. Most of what I learned about my father's
>experiences in WW2 I learned from my mother. Dad would tell funny stories
>from his army days but nothing else. My Dad was a combat engineer.
>Putting  a pontoon bridge across a river, they came under fire. Many of
>them went into the frozen river, Dad was one of them. He suffered
>terrible frost bite, among other things. It hurt his circulation in his
>legs for the rest of his life. Dad told my mother that his rescuers cut
>his clothes and boots off of him to keep him from freezing to death
>before he was taken to an aid station.
>I'm 52 years old and I wonder if there are enough years left to me in
>which to grow into the man that my father was. He was best man at my
>wedding. I asked him to be best man simply because he was the greatest
>man I had ever known. I am very aware of Dad's shortcomings but the love
>he had for his family made us love him back. Love covers a multitude of
>sins and shortcomings. I learned so much from his life about how real men
>should act. He was honest and forthright. I hear what he said and I
>watched him make good on his commitments. He was physically strong. He
>would toss us all about when he wrestled with us boys but when his arm
>was around my shoulders, I felt tenderness.  He couldn't sing worth a
>flip, I know because I sat beside him in church. He was dedicated to his
>family and his financial responsibilities. I saw him go to work even when
>he was ill. We were not rich by any stretch but we had enough. Dad farmed
>and worked a job and every week he gave his whole check to Mom. She gave
>some money back to him for his weekly expenses. My father's manliness was
>bigger than his pride. Concerning money, Dad taught us that if we
>couldn't be happy with little then we couldn't be happy with the whole
>world. He once told us, "Don't worry about how you're gonna make ends
>meet, worry about where you want'm to meet."
>Dad taught us about ecology years before I even knew there was such a
>word. He pointed out a snake in the corner of our tool crib and told me
>to leave him alone. He said old Mr. snake was the best rat trap we had on
>the place. Once I was helping him peg down the chicken wire fence. I
>asked if it wouldn't be easier to kill the fox. "Nope," he replied, "it's
>easier to fix the fence. I wont give him any chickens but he can have all
>the rabbits in the garden." We had chickens and pigs and calves, we had
>varmints like the fox and snake and rabbit. About all these he told us to
>take life judiciously because we could take it, but we could never give
>life back. Before we reached our teenage years all us boys were excellent
>marksmen. Dad not only taught us these skills but he taught us the
>responsibilities that we had every time we picked up a gun. I learned to
>take responsibility for all my actions because I watched my father take
>ownership of all his actions.
>All my boots are cleaned up and put away now. They make me think of so
>many lessons for life and bring back many memories. Dad has been gone
>since 1970 but I still think of him often. I still remember a pair of
>boots I wore to follow his over fields and woods. Thanks Dad.
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