On one of our nicer days this past week I was driving home from my grandson Grant’s tennis match when I noticed a young girl who appeared to be about ten years old pedaling her bike and carrying a fishing pole. This, in itself, may not seem like anything earthshaking to most but what struck me was the fact that she was obviously on her way home from fishing in the channel. This occurred at a time when a lot of us older sportsmen are voicing concern about what seems to be a lack of participation by our youth in our outdoors heritage.
Just this one little instance gave me a good feeling that just maybe, just maybe, the future of our outdoors heritage will be okay after all. It wasn’t just seeing this young girl, who obviously loved to fish, but this instance caused me to reflect on the many youth that I know of who also embrace the outdoors. Aside from my grandsons I also know that there are many other youths who love to hunt, fish or do both. There is a growing group of youth in our community who have formed a fishing club; with adult mentoring and the help of various sponsors this group has grown from an idea to a reality. This is a huge step towards preserving the future of the sport of fishing and the outdoors; Great job!
I can never stress enough the importance of encouraging our youth to participate in the sports of fishing or hunting. Fishing is a sport that can be pretty much low cost and accessible to any youth of our area and because of the good fishing lakes that we have right in our community it can be the start of a lifelong experience.
I suppose that seeing that little girl with fishing pole in tow reminded me a lot of myself when I was that age. As a kid my mother always encouraged me to fish and gave me valuable little tips that I still use today. She also loved to fish, although she always seemed to be too busy working to do much of it. Over the years I can remember how much she enjoyed the times when we would rent a pontoon boat on St. Olaf Lake and catch crappies, perch and sun fish. There were also the times when we would go to the boathouse on Beaver lake and rent two boats with my folks’ friends Elmer and Mary. Elmer had one of those green 5 horse Johnson outboard motors and he would attach our anchor rope to his boat and tow us to the crappie hot spot. As the evening would start to cool the crappie would begin their bite and it wasn’t long before we would have a mess of them on the stringer. I can still feel the air as darkness set in and the cool haze of the evening air greeted the water. That time of the evening always gave off a certain cool, damp and refreshing unmistakable smell that can only be experienced by being there.
Yes, my mother was always encouraging me to fish and more importantly she shared her love of the outdoors with me. After I returned from the service I married and had a family. I was able to repay her in some small way, by taking her fishing on area lakes and also on family vacations up north but even that never seemed like enough to repay her for sharing her love of the outdoors with me.
Mother’s Day was always a special day at our house and although we never had a lot of extra money to go out and eat my Dad always made sure that we did something special for my Mother on that day. Dad wanted to make sure that Mom didn’t do any cooking on “her” special day. There were a few times that we would go to the Dairy Bar, which was located at about the same place as McDonald’s is now. Mom would always order her favorite - a Pork Tenderloin Basket. This was great because not only was mom getting a treat, but we all got to benefit from it by eating out and getting “French Fries” which we never got at home and, if we were lucky, maybe we’d even get one of those soft serve chocolate cones.
The other place we would visit on special occasions was the Maid Rite Shop. Dad would buy a bag of Maid Rites and we would go to Pioneer or Edgewater Park and have an old fashioned picnic. Dad furnished the sandwiches and Mom would put some milk in a thermos and bring a bowl of her famous potato salad along and a picnic just wasn’t a picnic without a can of Van Camp’s pork and beans. It probably doesn’t seem like a big deal to some, but it was our way of celebrating a special occasion. It got to be kind of a family tradition; making a special Mom’s Day special.
Please take some time to honor those who have sacrificed so much for the freedoms that we enjoy today. Also take a little extra time to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, those who served and those troops that are serving today.