All about Memory Bank Accounts

As we awaited the social event of the spring – the Ellensburg Rodeo Hall of Fame pairing of 2014 artists and sponsors – at Fitterer’s Furniture a couple weeks back, Homey Jerry Lael and I had a confab.

As you know, any time two or more of us gather in the name of the outdoors, a meeting of the Reecer Creek Rod, Gun, Working Dog & Outdoor Think Tank Benevolent Association is automatically convened. The primary agenda item for this meeting was consideration of the richness and value of good memories.

We started with how the artists, working on steer skulls this year, would create memories that will only brighten with time. In moments, we were reliving some of our own treasured memories – memories from our outdoor lives deposited into “memory bank accounts” long years ago.

For a few minutes, we revisited a deer hunt Jerry had with his father. As he recounted the experience, I was right by his side, watching a deer hunt which was at once hugely successful (a big buck right there), an abject failure (missed shot), and an all-time great memory bank deposit (“Wow! I can still see that buck and feel that instant!”).

As Jerry re-deposited that memory and was pulled away to attend to pressing business, I found myself lost in one of my own priceless deer hunting memories; four decades ago, I watched a nice buck slip from a patch of timber, cross a sage meadow, and duck into a couple-hundred-foot-long thicket of tall brush we called mountain mahogany. I figured he was looking for a place to lie low for a while. There was a little wind, and it occurred to me that I might be able to make a good sneak, if I took my time. Over the next half hour, rifle at the ready, I inched into that breeze and examined anything that might be a deer part. Suddenly, not ten feet away, the buck startled to his feet. I threw up my rifle, but at that distance the riflescope was filled by a gigantic, wide-open eye of buck. In an blink he was gone, noisily crashing from the thicket. I stood, shaking like a leaf, searing that eyeball picture into my account.

This “memory bank account” concept is one I’ve valued since buddy Rick Doell and I started talking about how our youthful ice fishing trips in Colorado blizzards would surely get warmer and more successful as we relived them later in our lives. This was the author’s point in an article we read in one of the outdoor mags sometime in the 1960s. The guy wrote of opening such an account for hunting, fishing, camping, hikes with kids and parents – about anything people might do together to enrich their lives. He figured you could make countless withdrawals without ever drawing down the account. In fact, he surmised, every time a favorite memory was lifted from the account, it would be savored, enjoyed and returned with more value than when it was withdrawn. (Interestingly, 50 years later, I have to strain to remember the frostbitten fingers, noses and toes that accompanied the fat rainbows drawn from the holes Rick and I chipped through the ice.)

We often quoted the author’s premise that “nothing is more important than regular deposits into your account. When you’re 90 years old, will you be better served by the polished and preserved memories of times afield with buddies and family or by the papers crossing your desk? Work with pride—but make those memory bank deposits.”

I have long thought that well-rounded people need to be outside at every opportunity – banking memories for dreary or stressful times. I encouraged my students to take “well days,” rather than come to class sick, and suggested a couple days during each quarter to take care of themselves – to bank some memories. Students were still responsible for the material covered, but far more likely to return ready to play.

The late L.L. Bean, the guy who started the mail order sporting goods business, had it figured out. He took his business very seriously (he was the first to offer his customers their money back if they were dissatisfied for any reason). Every employee had to be an outdoor nut of some ilk, and every item sold by the company was – still is apparently – field tested by those employees. Bean was also serious about his play time. When he was in his 80s, he was still going strong, fishing and hunting at every opportunity. He noted one day that he was on a stream with several of the same buddies with whom he’d fished and hunted as a boy. They were all reaching old age blessed with good health. “It dawned on me,” he said, “that the Good Lord must not count against the sum of a man’s days, those days spent in pursuit of fish and game.”

I like the concept. For some years, I was the morning weather anchor on KOA radio in Denver. If a day was particularly beautiful, I might urge people to take the day off and make some memories which would brighten their twilight years. Then I’d say, “Just tell your boss I said it was okay.”

So, take a day off and go play outside. Deposit a memory. Tell your boss Jerry and I said it was okay.

Written by Jim Huckabay. Posted in Uncategorized

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