Don’t get old.

Sitting in his easy chair, he leans back and with more effort than it should take, pushes the little foot rest into place. An exhaled breath betrays the weakness now permeating his body.  His cardigan is thread bare at the sleeves and hangs open and loose over his shoulders. Tufts of grey hair sprout from under his once white T-shirt and prod the wrinkles of his neck.

Take my advice son, he mutters, “Don’t get old”. His face droops and shoulders sag. “I’ve had enough,” he sighs, the full weight of his 84 years pressing him deep into the chair like a g-force that grows greater with each passing year.

When did it come to this?‘  his son is thinking as he looks upon his future sitting in the chair in front of him. Continue reading

The Time of Our Lives

I open the door and the stair creaks on my first tentative step down. With a flick of the light I descend five more steps and pause on the small landing.  An uncertain feeling comes over me as I  continue my journey down into the abyss of time-forgotten treasures and junk. This is our basement.  How the hell did we accumulate so much crap? Shit, crap and corruption is how we describe it.  At the bottom step I pass through the door  that ushers visitors into the kingdom of spiders and stuff. Continue reading

One of many adventures: an unfettered childhood

It is early evening and my good friend Jim and I have been exploring the woods and ravine for most of the day. Having packed a lunch (standard peanut butter/jam sandwiches with cheese whiz and crackers) we returned home only for a quick supper and then continued our foray back into the wilderness.

We carefully select our route down the steep slope gripping overhanging branches to keep our footing. The Devil’s Club offers a tempting stem to hold, but I learned that really hurts. My pack keeps snagging on the salmonberries and we occasionally fall on our butts and slide down the slope on the loose, damp soil.  Reaching the creek, we take off our runners and socks and wade across the stream and then proceed in similar fashion up the opposite bank returning to a spot we had selected earlier in the day. Draping a small tarp over the bent canopy of vine maples and with a mat on the ground beneath, we have an instant tent. Light is fading fast in the woods so we spread our sleeping bags and wait for the approaching darkness. No campfire as we got into trouble for doing that last time.

With darkness comes a very different and heightened awareness of sounds in the woods. I have my hatchet and trusty “original Bowie knife”,  bBowieut we are both kind of scared but don’t admit it. A local squirrel protests our presence and an owl calls from a nearby tree. There are no bears or cougars although we do get warnings from time to time. It is possible that a raccoon or a skunk may happen by. That would be a calamity in the middle of the night. We talk well into the night as the chill sets in around us and eventually we fall asleep.  We awake to the light of the early dawn filtering through the trees. A cool mist hangs in the damp, morning air.  Today we will build our fort on this spot, but first a quick return trip home for breakfast and check-in with our mothers.

That was a different era.  I was 12 years old.