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Re: [at-l] hardly trail related

Ah, the smoke clears
I see the stars
breath fresh air

> From: hopefl@juno.com
> To: at-l@backcountry.net
> Subject: [at-l] hardly trail related
> Date: Sunday, August 22, 1999 5:28 PM
> 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.
> Hopeful
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