Traipsing Behind

dad1My mother says I am just like my father. Once in awhile she will say you’re your father’s daughter that’s for sure. Usually it is when I get in trouble or my sense of humor gets me in trouble, I should say. She says I am always “traisping behind” him and I guess that is true. Sometimes we both get in trouble together.

I think sometimes Dad woke up one morning and realized he had four kids and didn’t know what to do with them. He seemed befuddled what to do, so he took to the outdoors and if one of us wanted to join him in what he was doing, well, that was just fine with him.  I can barely remember Ma being off somewhere one day and Dad had to go to town for kerosene. Well, I was about four years old and he couldn’t leave me alone, so I sat in the front seat looking out pretty proudly as we motored up the little road. All went well until we were back in the door yard and Dad went to open the door for me…well, you know I thought I was a pretty big person and could open it myself. Somewhere our signals got crossed and Dad shut the door on my little finger. Well I let out a wail that would put coyotes to shame. Dad had no clue what to do, so he got back in the car and we rode up and down the road to Locke Mills forever and he kept pointing out ducks and birds and people’s houses until I stopped crying. He finally told Ma that night and she rushed over and looked over my fingers and said Beryl Martin, that girl will have a crooked finger the rest of her life.

Well, now I am twelve and Ma was right about that. The finger is crooked but not so you’d notice it unless you point it out and I am not about to do that.

One day Dad asked me to go trout fishing with him on Twitchell Pond. I don’t fish. I keep Dad company as he runs the little motor on Uncle Louis’s boat at a really slow speed. His fish line dangles out and he is hoping for a brown trout. One day we were on the back side of the pond and he pointed out Nick’s point to me and Johnny Howe’s camp and Eichel’s camp. It is strange to see the camps up really close when you are used to seeing them from our door yard on the other side of the pond.

The hawks were screaming around Rowe’s Ledge and I asked Dad how far up “Pie Rock” was. Well, there is this rock on the side of the ledge that looks just like a piece of pie. Well, he says, Muff, do you want to hike up there. I thought he was kidding, but he cut the motor and we drifted into Brooks’ beach. Off we went. Dad went ahead and held back some of the alder bushes so they wouldn’t whip me in the face and we climbed and climbed. Finally he looked back and said, well here we are. I was truly disappointed. I thought “Pie Rock” was a magic place and there was nothing but a scraggily little pine tree growing out of a crack in the rock and some moss here and there and twigs. I think Dad saw how disappointed I was, because he said, look over the pond. Well, then I turned around and oh, what a beautiful sight that was. It was like I could see forever and the little brown speck was Wagner’s camp on the far side of the pond. It was magic after all!!

We sat down for awhile to catch our breath and I noticed the pitch on my pants and shirt and dirt on my arms. Ma would not be too thrilled with that.

Finally Dad said we had better start back before Ma got worried. it was sure easier going down! We went across the pond directly home and Ma said she never knew Twitchell Pond was so dirty!  I figured I would let Dad tell her we hiked up to “Pie Rock”.

Well, I have to say that I have learned a lot from Dad, even though it might not be too useful. He told me if I caught any perch off my rock, that I would have to clean them. So one day, I came home with a stringer full and he found a flat rock and said, go to it, Muff. Well, I liked catching them but not too sure about cleaning them. He showed me how to clean the first one and after that gave me his knife and left me to do the rest. The first one was quite a test, but after awhile it came natural and I finished cleaning the perch. 

Ma told me that night it was a nice mess of fish to have for supper. Dad cleared his throat to make sure he was heard and said, I think she will make a pretty good Maine guide some day. That was when Ma gave Dad “the look” and told him he had three sons he could work on for that and her daughter was not going to be herding men through the woods just because she was traipsing behind him all the time.

Dad grinned and tapped his foot, took a sip of his coffee and Ma knew he had got her again.

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