Friday, December 18, 2009

and now my christmas thought

Sometimes I get lost in the details of the story I tell, I will try to stay on task.

As we rolled around the the dirt roads along the big Blackfoot river, we past creek after creek, and canyon after canyon.

The big Blackfoot feeds into the Clark fork river, these rivers and others are the drainage for a glacial bed that only a few thousand (8 to 40 depending on which geologist you talk to) was still a mile thick over what was then an open plane. but these rivers, the Clark fork in particular and the creeks that feed it dug out the canyons and the valley's giving shape and variety to the landscape. This process continues to this day.

As my dad drove on I realized that lost creek must be a way's off. We had passed every one that I knew and the gully's off the canyons were beginning to become dry.

As the tributaries became fewer and the steams became smaller there were fewer and fewer people fishing along them .

Finally we were alone and my dad parked the truck at the bottom of a dry gulch. Regal didn't wait for the tail gate and was sniffing and investigating he was very excited to be here, he kept looking back at my dad as if he was anticipating him to pull out a shotgun, he was ready to hunt!

My dad said" Not today Boy!" dropped the tail gate again and told Regal to "jump in and stay", he did.

He gave me a fishing pole grabbed his equipment and told me to follow him as he walked into the woods surrounding a dry gully.

As we walked he told me that he and the dog were hunting in this area last fall and came across a "lost creek" and he didn't think anyone else knew about it.

"How does a creek get lost?" He gave me a fairly detailed explanation about bedrock, soil types, underground aquifers, and artisan springs, but it came down to; The water gushes out of the ground and makes a pretty stout creek for a mile or so then slowly disappears in to the soil again leaving no evidence below that it is there.

"And there is fish in it?" "yep" some big old cutthroats and two different beaver dams along the mile or so that it is above ground.

Thinking about the fact he left the dog in the truck and glancing at the big 45 colt on his belt, I asked; " Any bears? " "Yes son..." His voice softened a little at the tension in mine.

He reminded me that making a little noise to be sure they knew we were there, would move them out and we would be fine. "If we don't surprise them.".

He would then call Regal up, after we had been there for fifteen minutes or so. "We didn't want the dog tangling with a bear." I knew if he chose between a fifty dollar ticket and the "best bird dog he ever had" it would mean; dead bear.

He through a few rocks and hollered a time or two. And about ten minutes later he pointed up to a saddle in the ridge above us and said. "There he is." A big bear with long silver fur just across his back, galloped across to the next canyon with out looking back. Dad whistled and five minutes later Regal was leaning against my hip.

We walked on.

He took me to the first beaver dam set me up with a bobber and a dozen worms and said to me and the dog."Stay out of the creek if you go swimming you will regret it." he paused like he had something else to say. Instead he just smiled shook his head and walked on up stream.

side note: my nick name was " the fish". I had taught my self to swim when I was three.
Staying out of the water, was not in my contract.....

90 seconds later I was naked in the seventy degree air temperatures,
then the dog (who decided to keep his collar on) and I jumped into the pool, off the bank.

I had never felt pain quite like that........

In the open Fields with banks of dark brown earth and even in the rivers the water was tolerable for a few minutes or more.

But this water had been under ground for years and was just 10 degrees above freezing.

My swimming career was over.

Future generations of my children collectively gasped in sympathetic pain, and wondered who might be there father now that my lower extremities unable to over come gravity, had to remain in the water while I hastily waded out.

The dog who routinely retrieved goose in the fall, smashing ice as he went, mumbled something about me being a sissy and lay down on the bank next to me as I gasped for air.

I could here my dad laughing heartily about two hundred yards away...... When he could contain himself. He told me to "get dressed and walk it off....."

As I walked past him I asked if I could go upstream "You stay out of the water?" he asked looking down at me. " Yes sir." i said kicking a stone with my boot. "OK then"

The silver shadow followed along.

I walked up and as I did the stream got bigger and bigger.
and then I came to the spring that was set in the confluences of two BIG gullies; almost canyons.

There water pushed from the ground clear and so cold that it hurt your hand after just a few seconds of submersion.

As the big dog drank heavily from it, I walked twenty yards above the roaring water and stood on dry ground. I walked farther up and soon couldn't even hear the rushing water. looking back at the trail that I came from, I found that it was so tangled with brush that you couldn't see any evidence of the creek. as I said before the stream disappeared at the bottom, the beaver dams pooled the water in such a place that it would seep back into the ground from whence it came.

The ground literally drank it up before it could be seen from the road.

This to me was amazing.
To a seven year old it was pure magic

This is my point. every year the malls, and the stores, and the churches, and the tabernacles, and the conference center, become absolutely filled and over flowing with the spirit of Christmas.

This spirit which is the light of Christ, sorrows at a family in need, or other sadness's,
and joys at the triumph of the skies while focusing on the little town of Bethlehem as still we see it lie.

In most people that I know, this spirit last much longer than Christmas. some not as much.

This spirit can become dammed in a place where perhaps it seeps back below and waits for a confluence of season and reason to be.

We are all individuals and each circumstance has singular condition. But if we could give our self a gift..... would we try to make subtle changes necessary to keep this spirit alive and above ground. That would be pure magic.

Let you light so might catch on....

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

an indirect christmas thought.

When I was a boy we lived in Missoula Montana, my dad and I went fishing often.

The summers there were designated as the two months of the year that; "It most likely wouldn't snow in the valley's".

Fishing for my father was more of a compulsive way of life than anything, and it really bugged my mother.... so he had a plan.

If he stood on a fence rail on the west side of our two acre's on the edge of town and looked across the open fields that stretched out to the Blue Mountain. you might see a few boys stalking the creeks that watered the stock in those fields, just like wild Indians. (A few of them were Salish and/or Kootenai tribal members.)

Near one of those half naked boys would be a big silver dog, his name was Regal. He was a wiemeriner, my dads hunting companion, and my shadow. If dad wanted to find me he would call for the dog with a high pitched whistle, (same whistle that calls Sam nowadays) but Regal wouldn't come...he wanted to go to my dad, but he wouldn't leave me.

He would howl and bark and make a fuss, until I was invited to leave the hunting party!

So I would head home 3/4 of a mile across the openfeilds and streams.

At the fence Regal would jump over and run to the garage, following him I would find my dad loading fishing gear into the front of his 55 ford pickup. dad dropped the tail gate and the big dog bounded in to the back.

"Where ya goin' dad?" I asked "Lost Creek, Don't you want to go?" he replied. (hmm. lost creek never been there.... sounds mysterious and scary....) "Sure dad sounds fun." My assignment was to go in the house get dressed "properly" and tell my mom that "I wanted dad to take me fishing." and be back before she could ask to many questions...... She frowned but didn't ask...

The youngest child has such jedi powers.....

I jumped into the back of the truck sat down, near the front, in the middle of the big spare tire. The big dog lay next to me as he had done my whole life. he snored while I scratched his ears and ribs, and watched the countryside roll by.

what has this to do with Christmas? I'll have to finish the story tomorrow or the next day because anatomy lecture final looms like the abominable snow creature (Rudolf)