Friday, June 13, 2014

Fun with dad

When our new photographer Carlos Sanchez and I were traipsing around Main Street asking people to share memories of their most fun moments with their dads for Friday’s SunLife feature, we couldn’t help remembering some fond memories of our own.
I was surprised to find that several people we talked to described their favorite times with dad as work-related or experiences that many of us think of us stressful, like learning to drive.
But when I thought about it, and compared notes with my sister and brother, we realized that teachable moments were attached to many, if not most, of the best times spent with our dad and our maternal grandfather. (Dad’s father died when I was almost three years old, just before my brother was born).
Grandpa taught us to canoe and shoot bows and arrows and some of the finer points of fly-fishing.
Dad taught us to kayak and where to find worms, assemble a fishing rod and reel, bait a hook, and rig and cast a line. He explained how to load rifles and shotguns, how to break and walk with a loaded rifle, and most importantly, how we should NEVER, EVER point a gun at anything we did not intend to shoot.
That lesson was so ingrained in me, that I still cringed, generations later, when my son or grandson would point toy guns and water pistols at random targets.
Dad taught us to hunt woodcocks, pheasant and partridge, which our Brittany Spaniel, Duffy, obligingly pointed out for us, but which I never managed to bring myself to shoot. Like many Baby Boomers, being the first generation to be traumatized by the death of Bambi’s mother, I never really considered deer hunting.
But dad did teach us to wear bright orange and avoid any clothing that might remind hunters of the white tails of deer whenever we found ourselves in wilderness areas during deer hunting season.
Since we spent a lot of family time in wilderness areas, that bit of fashion advice may have been crucial to our survival to adulthood.
Dad taught us a lot about camping, which was on the agenda nearly every weekend when the weather was good, and several when it was lousy.
I learned to wear waders in icy rivers and fish in the rain, when the fishing was usually best. Dad taught me how to set a hook and clean a trout. Later, when I decided fishing was just an excuse for meditating around water, I filled my creel with wildflowers (which mom taught me to press) and books to read and notebooks for poetry.
Dad didn’t really teach me that, but he wrote poems, too, and taught us that it was cool.
I’ve never forgotten Dad’s announcement to mom when I wandered over to his battered old Smith-Corona typewriter at age 6, taught myself to type, and produced my first poem.
“Look, Doris, she’s taken up the family instrument,” Dad said.
Both he and mom were enthusiastic readers and witty and literate conversationalists who loved words and books. Long car trips (and there were a lot of those, getting to all those wilderness areas) were spent singing their extensive repertoire of songs with witty lyrics and lovely melodies. Dad knew many long poems and rambling epic ballads, and he shared those, too.
All three of his children grew up to be writers, and I think my parents’ love of words had a lot to do with this.
So, in our own way, our best times with Dad were spent learning useful skills.
Some of us are fortunate enough to have dads who helped teach us how to make our way in the world, doing things we love to do, and to show us a good time in the process.
If your dad is still around, it’s the perfect time to say, “Thank you.”
Happy Father’s Day.
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at @DerricksonMoore on Twitter or Tout or call 575-541-5450.

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