I still know how to write with a pencil, which is a handy skill because the wizards who make smartphones have a way to go before I can talk to my phone and have it accurately transcribe thoughts. Too often, when I try to read what I spoke, I discover what the device heard differs some from the marvelously assembled verbiage that I’m certain I said.
Some changes are good, and some actually reside better in the memories of old men — which is good because I have discovered I am becoming one. I wake in the early morning at the ripe young age of about 30-something. By the time I reach the foot of the bed, I’ve aged to maybe 60. As I don my duds for the day with my public, I glance slowly – I have never been a fan of excessive haste –and wonder why that guy looking back at me from the mirror is still alive.
One of the nice things about being this age is Grampa-dom, except for the part where I’m running out of grandkids. Many moons have swung through the skies since I’ve had a little kid beside me in the woods. Like the night Son and I got off Interstate 91 just south of Montpelier, Vermont and rode the Harley down a long curving hill in the dark and coming rain.
We turned left at the bottom, and motored along. I had been told to look for a pond, and just past that on the left a dirt road between a barn and a farmhouse. The headlight’s beam bored into the darkness, not so much fading out as simply ceasing to shine in the emptiness. I could sense the trees otherwise invisible on either side of the two-lane.
Suddenly on my right: absolute nothing. No trees. Not even darkness. There, I knew, was the pond. Sure enough, a wide spot left between a barn and a house. I turned, and followed the track, trusting as it lay constantly just out of sight, that it would lead invisibly to the state park HQ.
It did. The park was not open yet – schools run longer up in snow country, and vacation time starts later, but the couple who would oversee the coming summer tourists decided the man and his son could unroll their sleeping bags in their choice of lean-to.
We took a shower in a small building where a quarter would buy enough water to wet a body, hiked back to the lean-to along a path marked on either side by invisible shrub branches, snuggled into the down-filled containers and slept, knowing that whatever we heard rustling in the bushes likely would not dine on us.
We woke safely in the morning, pushed our sleeping bags into the stuff-bags, and headed out. Rain had poured into the valley while we slept, and the dirt track leading back to the hard road was a creek of mud, which made navigating the Harley a little tricky, but soon we were destination bound.
I have one grandson left. Four years old, he seems to like me. He calls me Grampa and grabs my hand, “Come on!” – to go outside, when it’s not too dark and cold, else upstairs to the Legos and the bunk beds he thinks work best as a Jungle Gym. We’re working on convincing his mom there are no bears in the woods interested in a crusty old guy and a skinny little kid, and the odds of the latter getting home after a day afield are pretty good.
Thanks for coming along. I hope you enjoyed the ride. Comments are welcome, and please feel free to share. Click the “Share” button to share it on social media, or copy the URL and send it to friends and acquaintances you think might appreciate it.