May
09

Make it a Mothers Weekend

It was another of those off-Reecer Creek meetings of the Reecer Creek Rod, Gun, Working Dog & Outdoor Think Tank Benevolent Association. The subject on the floor was Mother’s Day and how it might most appropriately be celebrated. Homey Name-Me-And-You-Suffer-A-Long-Lingering-Death pretty much had it worked out.

“Think about it,” he opined. “For some of us, our mothers actually took us out and trained us. For most of us, though, our mothers kept us safe in the outdoors, and we probably never knew it; we figured it was our dads who took care of all that. My pop made sure that my kid sisters and I knew how to safely hike, shoot, camp, make a fire, clean fish, gut a deer, operate the lawnmower and change a tire long before we were teenagers.

“I came home during my second year of college for our family deer hunt, and somehow we ended up leaning against the same tree up in the Naneum eating our lunch stuff. One of my buddies had lost his dad that year, and had all these things he wished he’d said to him. …I sure as hell didn’t want to be him. Anyhow, I couldn’t quite figure out how to say what I had to say, but in the middle of chewing a mouthful of dad’s elk sausage, it just tumbled out of me. I told him I just needed him to know how much I loved him and how every day I was grateful for all he taught us about being wise in the world.

“For a long time, seemed like, he just looked at me. Finally, he said, ‘You’re welcome. It was my job. And I loved it.’ Then he grinned and chuckled. ‘You’re thanking the wrong person, you know. …When you were about four, you were just crazy about being outside, and going fishing, and arguing for your own guns. Your sister was a little over two, your baby sister was about due, and you had been ripping it up outside all day. After you were down, your mother took my hand and explained my future.

“‘She told me that she wanted all of her kids to grow up outside. Safely. She knew that accidents happen, God forbid, but my job was to make sure that you all knew everything you needed to know to be safe in all the places and ways you might grow up in the world. The way she looked at me, I knew she was dead serious. She said that if any of you ever got into trouble because of something you didn’t know about being safe – something I hadn’t seen to you learning – I would never again enjoy some of the most pleasurable things in my life. I think I became a good dad.

“So then my dad grinned one of his big joyful grins and said, ‘So, you better thank your mother, boy.’ I did, too.”

That story turned our minds. We all started thinking again about how our own mothers supported our needs to be outside, and sparked our desires to fish, hunt, hike and play.

My mother caught one fish in her life. I don’t think she ever shot a firearm, and I know she never went hunting. Still she demonstrated over and over how one honors the life taken for a family’s sustenance. Fish and game was always a gift. It was always a blessing, and always treated that way. When Cousin Ron and I were boys, bringing home fresh-caught trout or wild-picked asparagus, she would smile and remind us all of the sweet healthfulness of such wild foods.

My aunt Teen, Cousin Ron’s mother, prepared our fish and game with respect and love. She made a point of telling us she was proud of our ability to help nourish the family with fish from the Naches or birds from the Lower Valley.

Over the years, I got a similar response every time I brought my mother mallards, geese, pheasants, grouse, quail, doves or fish or big game. They were cleaned, of course, when I offered them, as that demonstrated respect. If we didn’t respect the wild things which gave themselves, she would say, we would not be well nourished. Early in my life she smiled and said, “When you clean your fish and game before you offer it that shows respect for me, too.”

Grandma Minshall, in Tacoma, fawned over any fresh food that Grandpa (or any of the rest of us) provided from the sea, field or garden. “Such great providers,” she would smile.

As our mother stories wound down, Homey jumped in. “All right. I have this worked out. Make it a ‘Mother’s Weekend.’ Get her out hiking or shooting. Pick a bouquet of real flowers out in the foothills. Then take her to the NRA Foundation Banquet Saturday night so she can help raise funds to teach kids to be safe around firearms, and have safe places to learn to shoot. Then treat her to something special for food Sunday – like a gourmet preparation of something you brought home – or even one of the buffets around town. Treat her like you really understand that she made you the outdoor guy you are, you know?”

Happy Mother’s Weekend, moms! And thank you.

Written by Jim Huckabay. Posted in Uncategorized

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