Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Daniel is down

By John D Ramsey

First of all, thanks, Dad, for posting on Monday. I try to post every odd day, and it proves to be a challenge when the schedule gets busy. This weekend was exceptionally full, and I would have certainly missed a post without Dad's help. Thanks again.

Daniel came down from Minnesota this weekend. He met his little sisters and me at Mom and Dad’s house near Jamesport, Missouri. Lisa stayed at home because she was hosting a party for home-school coordinators and volunteers.

At Jamesport, Daniel helped me trim trees and clear brush. We did not do very much, but just enough to help the appearance of the yard. While we did that, Dad and Gabby staked tomatoes in the garden. Claire drove Dad’s lawn tractor around with the trailer attached. She hauled brush to the burn pile near the creek. I think she would have hauled brush all day just for the opportunity to drive the little tractor.

There were many things to do in a short visit, so we worked for a while and then went fishing on my aunt and uncle’s property just west of my parents’ house. The farm I remember was 100 acres. My parents live on the lot east of the creek. My aunt and uncle own the rest. The pond on which we fished replaced a gully in the middle of what was a 40-acre field. I do not remember exactly when my uncle built the pond, but everyone in the family refers to it as the “new pond.” There are two other ponds on the property. There is the shallow “old pond” which is choked by thorny locusts, willows, and cattails; then there is the “pond by the road.” When I was a child, we called it the “big pond.” My grandfather drained an old stock pond and rebuilt it and we called it the “big pond” because it was so much larger than the old pond. The “new pond” is bigger than the “big pond”, so the “big pond” has become the “pond by the road.”

As a youth, I fished, skipped rocks, and shot bullfrogs on the big pond. It was one of my favorite places in the world. The fishing on the new pond this week was a new experience for me. The water was a little cloudy because of all the rain, and the wind was gusting from the south making casting from the north bank unpredictable. I spent much of my time hanging bait on Gabby’s line. I had forgotten to wear my glasses and I fumbled with hook and worm.

Earlier in the morning, Gabby and I had dug worms from our garden and put them in an empty On the Border margarita mix bucket. It seemed as if the worms and the tequila were destined for the same container. The timing of their conjunction suited me just fine.

On the new pond, Claire fished unsuccessfully with my pole. Daniel fished with the pole we sent him for his birthday. We ordered the rod and reel from Cabela’s, and the girls shopped for tackle at Wal-Mart. They boxed the tackle with some treats and sent it to him by UPS. Daniel knew the girls had shopped for the tackle because they chose pink lures.

The crappie on the new pond also favored pink, and Daniel quickly landed several fish that would have yielded plate-sized fillets if we had kept them. He left one monster crappie in the water long enough to let Gabby have the thrill of reeling it in. After I changed her lure to a plastic yellow squid, Claire managed to catch a few nice-sized fish, too. I had nothing in my small tackle box that was pink, but yellow was adequate. Gabby caught a few little fish using worms. I caught nothing. The girls very much enjoyed being with Daniel. That was the prize catch for me.

The farm on which Mom and Dad live has always been a place for building memories. The landscape has changed from my memory. I still see the features that vanished long ago. I realize that I see the place differently than my children do. Nevertheless, the farm is still forming fond memories of earth and family. For that, I am grateful.

Throughout the weekend Daniel worked with us, played with us, and ate with us. His visits are a celebration with or without a holiday on the calendar. Another Missouri thunderstorm blew through Kansas City, and Daniel agreed with me that thunder sounds different here than in Minnesota. My favorite sound of the weekend, however, was not the awesome thunder but rather the laughter of Claire and Gabby as they played with Daniel. When he returns to Minnesota he knows that our hearts and prayers will go with him.

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