Monday, September 28, 2009

Upon Reflection

The picture above is one I snapped last week while on a fishing\camping adventure with my husband. We were both trying to catch catfish, which is easily one of my favorites. This tasty fish can be fixed in a variety of ways, making it an extremely versatile main course.

We had been informed that the catfish were biting at Alexander Reservoir, or should I say, what is left of Alexander Reservoir, near Soda Springs, Idaho. This usually large body of water has been drained for dam repair work. (No pun intended.) The only water left in the vicinity is the river that flows into this reservoir.

So we set up camp near the river, and began trying to catch the elusive catfish. We caught more than our share of small yellow perch, and Kennon caught a large freshwater sucker. Then it happened, I caught my first catfish. It put up a heck of a fight, but when I finally reeled it in, it was quite small, all things considered. It was only about 8-9 inches long, so we set it free, after I made Kennon take my picture with it to prove to our offspring that their mother had indeed caught the fish of choice.

I caught two more just like it. (And no, it wasn't the same fish. I suspected it was, but Kennon pointed out the second one was larger, and the 3rd one was smaller.) Sensing I was destined to catch one we could keep, I walked down the bank and cast out where I believed I would catch a big catfish. I had just settled down beside my pole, when it nearly flew into the river. I had to pounce on it to keep it from disappearing. As it was, I lost my bobber.

Kennon saw that I had a fight on my hands, and he hurried down to help. He offered all sorts of advice while my pole nearly bent in two. Now wouldn't you assume if someone was dressed like this, they would know what they were talking about?

Au contraire. I heeded every bit of advice, closing my eyes at one point during this adventure, certain my "antique" pole was doomed. (Important note: I've had this fishing pole since I was about 10 years old. It's my lucky pole, the one I used when my father and maternal grandfather taught me how to fish years ago. Never mind the fact that a few years ago we spotted one just like it in an antique store for $30.00. My siblings and children still make fun of me as a result, but I like my fishing pole. It possesses great sentimental value.)

I obediently kept the line taunt. Kennon adjusted the drag. (I have no idea what this means, but evidently it's important.) Still my pole continued to bend in half. Fearing for its life, I was about ready to cut my losses to save it when things went very still. The bad news was, the line was stuck. Kennon figured it was one of two things:

1) The silly catfish decided to sit on the bottom of the river to outwait me.
2) The silly catfish ran under the lava rocks that lined the river bank and I now had a nasty snag.

It turned out to be door number 2. Long story short, I lost my tackle, but saved my pole. (stupid catfish!) As I sat sulking, I saw that the sunset was beautiful. So I pulled my trusty camera out of its case and began snapping pictures. As I did so, an interesting pelican landed in the river nearby and swam quite close. I was able to get the picture you see above as a result. It's possibly one of the prettiest pictures I've taken all summer, and a shot I would've missed had I been busy catching catfish. ;)

Moral of the story: life very rarely turns out the way we envision. Sometimes the best laid plans go up in smoke, or in this case, under lava rock. Instead of pouting, it behooves us to look around and see what other opportunities lie in our midst. The beauty of what we may see will surprise us, filling us with hope, giving us a reason to smile.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

End of Summer

So it appears that fall is just around the corner. The mornings are cooler, the nights are nippish, and yes, it has frozen my poor garden at least 3-4 times this past month. (Sigh . . .) The huckleberries have all been gathered, I'm still hoping to get a few more chokecherries, and I'm up to my eyeballs in canning mode at the moment.

It's also the annual bow hunt. As such, my b-i-l and his wife and family all camped up a nearby canyon a couple of weeks ago. My husband and I camped with them for kicks and giggles, and I decided to post a few pictures to share the beauty of where we were.

This was our campsite. It was back in the woodsies and a great place to relax.

This was interesting. We found it below our campsite. Some people are very creative. ;)

Here, good brother Jeffy is posing with his former neighbor, Ranae, and her two puppies.

The food was wonderful. This is the grillbox chicken that Kennon & I fixed one night.

That night we also served Dutch Oven potatoes.

We loved sitting around the campfire, consuming delicious vittles and spending time visiting.

Here Nephew Zac demonstrates his "drinking" problem. (Inside joke. It involved spilling a great deal of water down himself.)

Kennon and I spent one afternoon picking huckleberries. We figured that season was over, but Jeff and his f-i-l stumbled onto this patch and came back to report.

These berries were about as thick, big, and ripe as I've ever seen. We picked a half gallon that afternoon. Way cool!

Another afternoon, Kennon and I went for a 4-wheeler ride up the famed "Boulevard." We climbed to the top of a mountain and could see the valley below. This is Geneva, Idaho below.

And this is a privately owned reservoir on the Wyoming side of the hills.

We played games to keep the little ones entertained. Here we're playing a rousing game of Dominoes.

Kennon also gave Tia a couple of rides on the 4-wheeler which she seemed to enjoy.

Here's my version of a "drive-by shooting." ;) I snapped this deer's picture as we passed by on the 4-wheeler one afternoon.

All in all a good time was had by all. The mighty hunters came back empty-handed, but we had a lot of fun, and to me, that's what matters most.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Defining Moments

Or perhaps I should've named this particular blog post, refining moments. We all experience them. They are those moments in our lives when we take a leap of faith to accomplish what often seems beyond our grasp. They are also challenging trials that stretch us beyond what we think we're capable of enduring. We're told, however, that we won't be tempted\tried beyond what we can endure. That said, evidently we are stronger than we think we are, considering what we often face in mortal mode. The true test comes when we push beyond our comfort zone to better ourselves or to help those around us.

I experienced one of those moments this past week. My husband and I went camping with some of his family during the Labor Day holiday. We left on Friday and returned home on Wednesday morning. (Which is why there were no new blog posts until now, but there I go again, digressing.) We came down for church on Sunday, but spent the rest of the time frolicking in the woodsies.

The camping adventure was an enjoyable time. We picked yet more huckleberries, what chokecherries we could find, and my husband caught brook trout to his heart's delight. We consumed delicious food and enjoyed spending time with family members. But as is always the case toward the end of these kind of adventures, I returned home exhausted. The weather change usually wreaks havoc with the rheumatoid arthritis and yes, I was limping a bit upon our return home. My lower back and hips were extremely unamused with all of the berry picking, four-wheeler rides, etc.

We came home, cleaned out the camper, and began tackling numerous tasks that awaited. Then, as I was headed to town to run several errands, wondering how I was going to find the energy to accomplish all of that, an accident took place. At first, I thought our neighbors down the street were burning leaves. I saw all of this smoke pouring from the corner. Glancing off to the side, I was puzzled by all of the scattered debris that littered the yard next door. Then the smoke cleared somewhat as I began to pull out onto the main street of our little town. That's when I realized that the smoke was pouring out of the engine of a truck---and the truck contained people. I saw a woman inside the truck waving frantically at me and it finally clicked: "Oh, no, there's been an accident!"

I pulled into a nearby driveway and ran for all I was worth toward the smashed truck. Another woman ran from her truck---she had seen the accident take place. While her mother called 911, this woman and I did our best to help the older couple who were trapped inside the truck. The driver's side was totally smashed---the only way out was through the door on the passenger side. We somehow managed to get it open, and helped the couple escape their smoking truck. All of us were afraid the truck was going to burst into flames, which explained the panic experienced by the wife of the driver.

We helped this woman into the shade of a nearby tree and tried to keep her calm until help arrived. It was a miracle that these two had survived this accident with only minor injuries. They were both bruised up, and the husband had sustained several cuts, so I ran to the the two houses that were nearby for the ice they were requesting, but no one was home at either place. I called my husband and asked him to bring up our first aid kit and some ice packs. He arrived at about the same time as the quick response unit, and after that, we turned things over to the professionals.

Long story short, this couple had been driving for hours, transporting some furniture to a distant destination. The wife had dozed off, exhausted, and the husband had followed suit. The bad news was he was the one driving. The truck veered off the main street of our little town, grazed a cement wall, hit into the side of two trees, knocked a garbage container out of the way (this explained all of the debris in the yard) and plunged through a fence and into a pole, which finally stopped the truck. The woman who stopped to help had witnessed the entire accident. As I mentioned earlier, the couple involved in this accident are lucky to be alive.

Later, when all of the proverbial dust settled, I received a couple of lectures. My husband pointed out that I had risked my life by coming to the aid of these people. My youngest son (who wants to become a physician's assistant) told me that it's not cool to move people who have been injured in an accident because the movement may cause further damage.

I understand what they're both saying, but I know it would've haunted me forever if I hadn't done anything to help and the truck had burst into flames before the professionals had arrived. What I learned about myself during that experience is---despite being exhausted, achy, and feeling like the last chapter, I found the strength to push beyond all of that to help someone else. I know adrenalin played a huge role in all of that, but I also learned that maybe I'm stronger than I think I am.

I suspect we all are. We all get knocked down by life. We experience trials that beat us down until we think we've given all we can give. It's tempting to throw in the towel and say, "That's it, I'm done." Or to give into temptation when it knocks upon our door. It's easy to reason with ourselves and give into self-pity. "Because this and this has happened, then I deserve this and this and this." These are defining moments and the choices we make are important. Lives are often at stake, including our own. We are the only ones who can decide how we're going to handle any given situation. Heavenly guidance can come if we choose to heed those promptings. Agency is a very real gift---it's up to us to make the most of it.

Some of you may be wondering why I selected the picture at the beginning of this post. If you'll look closely, you'll see that it contains ripples in the water. [Yes, this is another one of those annoying analogies.] ;) We all make ripples in life---good or bad---again, it's up to us to choose. But I am learning that when we push forward, taking that leap of faith, we'll have the help of heaven to survive all that life may throw our way.