Before I wander off into this week's column, I'd like to thank the folks who contacted the paper about my writing. I appreciate the time from your day for such a kind gesture. Just please don't be alarmed if "Vice Principal Jacobson" has a trained mental health professional contact you for testing.
Writing a weekly column is like swingin' atop a green broke horse that belongs to your neighbor's daughter. You expect the worst and hope nothin' important is broken when you wake-up lickin' dirt.
When the horse ends up honest and bucks straight-away, you get the giggles and start thanking yourself for givin' it a try.
To be honest, this whole adventure wouldn't be possible without Jennifer Grubbs. She's the editor who "told" me I was going to write for her paper. Each column begins with two tablets, four or five pens and more ideas than Bayer has aspirin. I curl up on the chair and struggle through that first complete sentence.
Somehow, Jane knows when my brain is about to eat itself. She smiles and asks, "What is it this week?" There you have it ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, the secret's out: A quirky smile, a simple question and the words wander out of my pen.
Next to winter, this is my favorite time of year.
(Note to our new residents; we have two-and-a half seasons in Northwest Colorado. The one I'm enjoying now, then winter, and then in about June it gets a little warmer.)
This time of year - when I'm not fishing, which is every moment possible - I remember the adventures of my youth that directly affected my enjoyment of life as a grownup.
The first big trout I caught was with my grandfather beside me keeping me calm and reminding me what to do each time that monster made a run for freedom. Twice, I had him to the bank, and Grandpa missed him with the net. The third time he came in, the excitement overcame me, and I slipped off the bank and headed face first into the creek. How Grandpa did it, I have no idea, but he snagged the rod from my hand and netted the fish. Then, he sat on the bank laughing as I tried to doggie paddle across the gravel bar I'd belly-flopped on. Grandpa slowed his laughing long enough to tell me to stand up and walk back through the four or five inches of water that was running across my gravel bar.
When I got up and looked for the bank, there was Grandpa, still laughing, but he was holding the Biggest Trout Ever.
"Hurry, son," he said "we need to measure this old girl before we put her back."
In those days, we didn't have pocket-sized tapes or scales to weigh our fish, so we'd lay them against the rod and put a small scratch we could measure later.
Recalling that fish in his hands, I'm sure that I skipped across the creek yelling, "How big, Grandpa, how big?"
"Hold up there, Hal Neal," he said. "This fish is way too big to measure against your rod. Hold up your arm and stick your fingers straight out."
As my arm went up, he raised the Biggest Trout Ever up with it. He pinched my arm just below the shoulder, smiled and said, "There you go, we'll measure that arm when we get to the house."
All the way home in Grandpa's Diamond T Rio truck, I would feel that pinch and stick my arm and fingers straight out, reliving measuring the Biggest Trout Ever.
Now, it happens that several weeks ago I took my grandson fishing. It also happens that it was his turn to catch the Biggest Trout Ever.
His cousin took a picture of the fish with his "devious device" (read: cell phone camera) and sent it to Trey's dad. When I got my grandson home, his dad was waiting on the sidewalk.
"Where's that big fish?" he asked.
Trey Daniel shrugged and said, "We put it back, dad."
"Well, how will we know how big it really was?" his dad joked.
Trey Daniel started to raise his arm with his fingers stuck straight out:
Until next time:
There I was, surrounded up-front by people who complicate even the simplest thing, and I said to myself, "Self," I said (cuz that's what I call myself when I'm talking to myself), "they'll have no joy in their grownup life."
Seize the adventure.
Thank you for your time.