for most this amazing day:a day with my son
i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
Jude, the middle son with the iron will and wild eyes, said “I can’t believe you are taking me camping, Daddy.” He carried his boy things–the borrowed pocket knife, the partly whittled sticks, a piece of gum for the road. He had that fidget about him, the one of leashed ecstasy.
We set up camp on the banks of Crooked Creek, a gem of the Natural State where the small mouth bass run riffles quietly, like a whisper. Men come to fish this creek. Boys come to find treasures, to listen to the secrets slipping from under the rocks. Jude ran up and down the banks like a wild horse—jumping, skipping, laughing.
“Look at this arrowhead, Daddy.”
“Look at these fish guts, Daddy.”
“Look at this deer poo, Daddy.”
We gathered dry wood together. We placed sticks in a tee pee. Jude helped tend coals. He leaned low and blew hard on the tinder, just like his daddy. The burnt orange ignited into flames and his eyes reflected fire. We made a coal bed to the side of the fire and James, our camp chef and fishing buddy, cooked food over the top. Jude devoured food that he’d never eat otherwise, green beans and all. The campfire was magic, he said.
After dinner, Jude told stories about a little girl, a good friend. “That’s what guys do around a fire,” I told him, “we talk about our women.” He giggled a bit and retired to the tent. “The stream will be my noise-maker, Daddy,” he assured me. He was asleep before I said good night.
The next morning we loaded our Kayak—two fishing rods, a mother-packed lunch, and a pair of intrepid explorers. Jude manned the front of the kayak, navigated the tricky nooks and crannies of the spring fed creek. We high-centered in low water and Jude stood on the front of the kayak, fearless. This was his day, his creek.
Along the way we stopped and sunk lures into deep pools. I hooked a small bass and let Jude play it to the shore. I told him he that he had done the hard work. Reeling can be tricky. He laughed at my encouragement, knew instinctively that I’d done the heavy lifting. He gave the rod back and ran to explore the tracks of mythical creatures. Attention spans can be fleeting.
We made the long haul, 5.2 miles through canyons and valleys. As we ducked under a railroad bridge and rounded the bend for the home-stretch of water, Jude turned and said, “this was my best day, Daddy.”
“Mine too,” I said. “It was most amazing.”