I've enjoyed watching my 4 year old open his Christmas presents - the cute facial expressions and gasped statements of euphoria made me completely forget the careful budget that we'd disregarded and overspent. As usual, I got more than I deserved and at the end of the day I cackled evilly at having raked in another haul of awesome gifts.
One gift in particular held a notable interest for me. It was wrapped in a flat white box. Unfortunately I can't remember what paper or ribbon were on it, because until I opened it up, those details didn't matter. Inside the box I found an old knife and a note from my dad.
This almost resulted in an event that I tend to refer to as a "I have dust in both of my eyes at the same time" moment. In order to understand this gift, there is a fair amount of history you must be made aware of. From the time I was a "little fetcher" (a term borrowed from my mother), my dad has always taken me on fishing trips.
We fished the Green River in Wyoming, where my dad underestimated the depth of the river at the point he chose to cross with me on his shoulders. Somehow, at 6 years of age I managed to hang on tightly to his hair while he somehow crossed the middle of the river much like a submarine crossed the Atlantic. I rememember that water as being extremely chilly, a fact that I verified about 19 years later during an ROTC FTX in the fall of 2004.
We also hiked several miles into Spirit Lake in the Uintah Mountains - one of our fishing buddies packed in a float tube and waders in addition to the rest of his gear, and was extremely disgusted when we found a canoe in completely serviceable condition, tethered to a tree less than 100 feet from the lake.
However, the place we visited the most was the Boulder Mountain in southern Utah. I've camped at Cook Lake more times than I can remember. Our scout troop used car jacks (a suggestion from our adult supervisors) to roll Volkswagen sized rocks from the cliffs above Cook Lake into the water several hundred feet below. I've had my teeth jarred as I've tried to hang on to the inside of a Chevy Blazer on the road to Donkey Lake. I've hiked for hours on what my dad claimed was a "4 mile" hike into Lost Lake (it's lost for a reason - and no there weren't any fish in it). I rode my mountain bike from Cook Lake up to Horseshoe Lake (a ride that my dad purported to be of a distance of 3 miles), riding up many steep grades over a long distance - to finally reach a fork in the road with a sign stating "Horseshoe Lake - 3 miles" pointing to the right. Lately, we've ridden quads all over the Boulder top and hunted for arrow heads among the lower trees. We've hunted turkey near Posey Lake and shot rock chucks and bunnies any time we got the chance.
My dad found that knife in the reeds along the shore of some beaver pond on the Boulder when I was close to 8 years old. It was covered in mud and rust. He took it home, polished and sharpened it - and used it religiously on pretty much every trip we went on after that. He cut potatoes, gutted fish, removed slivers from our fingers (I hope he sterilized it first), and it could always be found in camp.
When he gave it to me yesterday, it came with this note:
StewartBecause "the dust" made it a little hard to say this yesterday, maybe I can write it better than I can say it.
This is more of a memory than a gift. I always loved taking you places like Boulder Mountain.
Thanks dad, it is a really great memory for me too!