When my father took me hunting or fishing it was always simple, just me, him and sometimes the dog. The time spent together has brought us closer than I thought possible. Countless excursions were spent with him telling stories and me listening, awestruck.
Dad tells stories everyday we go out. One time we went hunting and he told me a story about how my grandfather bought a dozen live tollers when my father was eight. He and Reed Belote went out with their BB guns in the pond and came back with 12 gorgeous, fat, drake mallards. Pop asked “boy where did you get those ducks?” Dad explained how he and Reed saw ducks in the pond and decided that they wanted them for dinner. Pop then told Dad and Reed to both go cut a switch and the live tollers haven’t been touched since. I cannot recall where we went hunting, or if any ducks were killed. My main memory is dad sitting on the bucket in the back of the boat just laughing.
We also work together on the clam farm in the summer. This job is stressful because our entire life savings is on a sand bar nine miles from the nearest boat ramp. In the summer when we work on the clam farm we don’t always work the same time every day. We usually get up at four o’clock and are back at the house at two in the afternoon. These mornings we get up and put nets, seed clams, the dredge to dig the clams, and coolers to put the clams in while harvesting in the boat. He pulls the dredge and I wash the clams and put them in the boat. When we plant clams I count out the clams 50,000 at a time and carry them to Dad, and he plants them. The hired help then covers them with a net and puts bags that are filled with pea gravel on the nets to hold them down.
Every minute that we are working is spent together. Our work is not done when we come in off the water. After we get in we must count the clams, sometimes in excess of a million, and prepare for the next day. Sometimes it feels like I spend more time with him than I do alone. This has made us not only great hunting and fishing partners but also best friends.
The time Dad and I have spent together has brought us closer than I thought was possible. Parents spending time with their children strengthens their relationship, instills good morals, and gives their children memories that last a lifetime. Dad was raised to take advantage of the outdoors and that is how he has raised me and that is how I want to raise my kids. In some people’s eyes this is wasted time that will never be returned. I say it is time well wasted.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.