It’s a wonderful thing what warmer weather and sunshine can do for a person. This past weekend I observed many folks walking, biking, jogging or just enjoying an afternoon picnic at one of the many nice parks we have in this area. With so many options we have, not only around Albert Lea but also around the area, it is great to see folks taking advantage of it.
I have been able to enjoy one of my favorite spring smells this past couple of weeks while on my early morning walks. No, I’m not talking about the smell of dead fish still hanging around the Albert Lea Lake vicinity. I am thinking lilacs, which are probably my favorite smelling blossoms, especially this time of year. Although the window of opportunity is rather small when it comes to being able to enjoy that magnificent odor, it is one I relate to with fond memories.
As a kid I can remember my Mother picking the flowers off the lilac bushes in the front yard and putting them in vases around the house. To me this was the smell of spring and it seemed to make the house come alive after a long winter of closed doors and windows. As a kid growing up in the country, or at least the outskirts of town, I had two rituals I usually followed. First thing my mother would do after school let out was to take me to town to Northside Barber Shop, where Earl Peterson would give me a flat top haircut. The next thing that I shed was my shoes. Oh, how I loved to run around barefoot, and each year it was not without seriously stubbing one or both of my big toes. Once that was out of the way, there was just the matter of toughening up my feet so that walking on rocks and gravel became less painful. We usually had limestone in our driveway and, if you know what that is, you know those rocks can be very sharp.
Once the shoes were shed I loved walking in the yard and enjoyed the feeling of the new grass underfoot. This didn’t come without a few setbacks, like thistles or stepping on a bee that was busily extracting pollen from a dandelion, and you would also know when a stray dog happened to visit the yard if you stepped on something and it squished up between your toes. These were all just minor setbacks in the quest to spend most of a summer outside without shoes or socks. I can still hear my mom yelling to me after I had come in from outdoors, “Did you remember to wash your feet?” I would usually answer yes as I hurriedly ran to the bathroom to catch up to my little white lie before she did.
Yes, I guess our generation was blessed by an appreciation for the simpler things in life that didn’t take much more than an imagination.
In that light, I can say that looking back to my early days of camping when a person only needed a tent, a Coleman stove and lantern and a couple of good lawn chairs. By good, I mean chairs that had most of the webbing still intact so it would hold an average sized adult as he or she cozied up to the campfire.
Yes, even camping keeps expanding its world. When I had a pickup camper I thought I had jumped to the top of the camping chain, only to be replaced by pull behind pop-up campers, and those folks eventually weren’t in the hunt unless they had travel trailers or fifth-wheelers with pull-out rooms to expand them almost to the size of a mid-sized house. All of these things are good and the comfort they add to your camping experience is nice, but eventually I have to wonder when it quits becoming camping and becomes another home on someone else’s property for a couple of days or maybe even a week. The nice thing about those campers is the fact you are able to enjoy an outdoors experience and see a lot of different places if you choose to do so and still have the comforts of home.
I have a small, rustic cabin in the north woods that I totally enjoy spending time at, but there are still times when I have thought about what fun it would be to tent for a night on one of the many national forest campsites that are available for free on many of the lakes in the area. I told my grandson Dylan a couple of weeks ago that we should take the brand new three-man tent that I’ve had in the attic for a few years and pitch it on Spider Lake. There are at least three different public campsites on Spider that are first come first serve and the only restrictions are that you pick up after yourself and your stay can be no longer than 14 days. I really would like to try that tenting thing for one night. Who knows, maybe it would start another little tradition.
Dylan and I will be heading up to the cabin for a few days, hopefully to make a few more good fishing memories. Looking ahead to next summer I assume that Dylan will probably have a job, so I need to enjoy this time while I can.
Until next time, any time is a great time to enjoy a little fishing, and now is a perfect time to introduce a kid to fishing. Remember to play safe and if you’re in a boat be sure to wear your life jacket.
It doesn’t have to be a special holiday to remember those who served and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.