What the mirror doesn’t show

What the mirror doesn’t show

“Well the truth about a mirror, is that a damn old mirror…
don’t really tell the whole truth. It don’t show what’s deep inside. Or read between the lines. And it’s really no reflection of my youth….” (George Strait, “Troubadour”)

little Sherdan, fly fishing
Dad as a little fisherman

Everyone has a story and it is difficult to guess what that story is when all you see is what is reflected on the outside. I can only imagine the difference between how I see myself and how the younger people at work see me. Maybe that is why we value old friends so much. When we see old friends, we see them clothed in the shadows of their youth. While most people only see our superficial reflection, old friends and family see our history.

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Hunting (hiking) the Adirondacks with Dad

The same is true when looking at our parents. You know they aren’t the young parents you remember most from growing up, but they never seem to catch up with their chronological age. Sometimes, however, events happen that remind us a little bit more of the passage of time. One of those events happened around Thanksgiving this past year.

My dad announced he retired from hunting. The reasons are his own. I’d be lying if I said the announcement didn’t come with some sadness. To emphasize the finality of the decision, my dad gave away his hunting guns, rifles, and other gear to my brothers and me.

No one can lead a more consequential life than a mother or a father. That is especially true when teaching or sharing something they enjoy with their children. I know of what I speak. I’m still someone’s child and I still know a thing or two about being a child, just ask my wife.

So Dad, thanks for introducing us to your outdoor world. Thanks for taking us fishing in that stocked trout pond in Vermont as kids, teaching me to paddle a canoe and taking me on canoe camping trips down the Raquette River in the Adirondacks and on the Connecticut River in Connecticut. Thanks for taking me deer hunting when I was a little shaver, even though I had a hard time walking through the snow and ate my whole lunch before 9 am. It was great hunting with you at Libby’s in Maine and at Dick’s camp in the Adirondacks. Thanks for taking up fly fishing* and fishing with us on the Miramichi River in New Brunswick, the West Branch of the Ausable River, and the other rivers and streams in between. Thanks for the Daisy Red Rider BB gun and the times target shooting and shooting pheasant in Connecticut. And thanks for all the other times, even though some of those memories may have faded over time.

Dad, if you ever get the itch to hunt again, we can always lend you one of your rifles or guns. Remember, hunting can be a sport of comfort. Recall the immortal words of Grampa Boushie, uttered as he sat in a nice warm car, sheltered from the bitter Adirondack cold, “You know, we’re just as likely to see a deer sitting right here.” Imagine how many tollhouse cookies you could carry into the woods if you hunted from your car!

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My dad, Sherdan, and Sunny at Libby’s back in 2005

*A special shout-out to my mom for taking us fishing when we were little and helping to bait our hooks. (OK, she didn’t help, she baited the hooks.) She also took up fly fishing and fly tying. Mom kept us well-stocked with beautiful flies for years.

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