Today was a great day to run down and play in the river. We have lots of land on the river, so we chose a spot with a sandbank. There were minnows swimming in the water, old mussel shells under the water, and fishing lines hanging from the bridge. I walked both directions down the river. Walking in the river, I could see the bottom everywhere I walked. There was some trash, but also lots of really cool rocks and shells. For those that haven’t gotten in the river water, it can be a little cold. The water in little shallow pools that are cut off warms up in the sun. Out in the river where the water is flowing, the water is just the right temperature to cool down in the hot sun in my opinion .
While down at the river we ran into a few groups that were treating the our field area like public property. I remember years ago my father meeting people that were playing in our lake and asking who gave them permission. They all would claim to have permission from the owners, not even realizing it was the owner they were talking to.
My father and his first cousin, Don, made a really nice family get together area around the pond we all still have. There was a drive around a field, and originally a house that was rented out. The house quickly was destroyed, but the pond was somewhere we all got together at for a lot of my childhood. It included a sandy beach, picnic tables, and a bridge across the pond. I remember celebrating my brother’s birthday there with my grandparents and lots of other family and friends. The part that stuck in my mind was playing string tricks with the cord on the new camera my grandma had given me and losing it off the bridge. A family friend, Butch, dived several times to the bottom trying to get the camera, finally giving up. The camera is still somewhere in the bottom of that pond.
My father after too many instances of running into trespassers at the pond, decided to destroy the drive back to the pond, tear out the bridge, and let the pond get taken by trees. Now no one uses the pond – not even our family… My parents explained to us many times that it was a question of liability, and what happens if someone gets hurt on our property. Then there was the mass destruction that large groups of people using an area will cause. Trash and more!
Growing up we also used to go canoeing and play in the river. Playing on the sandbank was fun. So taking the kids to the river was high on my list of things to do. The path we took down to the river wasn’t one we had made, it was one someone using our property to put canoes in to the river had cut through the weeds and trees. While walking down it, we saw everything from discarded aluminum cans to the sprayer for a garden hose. The kids built sand pyramids at the bottom of the path and want to go back to check on them…. I couldn’t tell them that they wouldn’t even last one day with the traffic that cuts through our property.
While there a car was parked at the top of the trail, pulled over on our property. It didn’t move, the people weren’t around. I assume they were canoeing down the river. It had a hangtag from the local high school in the front window. They obviously felt comfortable enough to leave their car parked on our property for hours with no one around it. What’s funny is my family has always been welcoming I think. So people asking if it’s ok, not leaving trash, would be all it would take to not be trespassing.
Our other area Bailey’s Bottom has so much trash being dumped at the entry, we have given up keeping up the road. When we want to go back to the field we walk back, which means we rarely go, since it’s a good distance back. It was another place growing up the family would have parties, swinging out into the river on tire swings, having bon fires, paying on the sand banks! It was where I learned to drive a truck on the road beside the field.
Last weekend we took a trip home. It was a wonderful trip down memory lane…. We went mushroom hunting, played in the river (I got scream at for that one), and even saw my cousin Larry with the Super Banana.
Growing up on a farm as foods came in season we ate those foods EVERY meal until they weren’t in season anymore! Morel mushrooms were one of those seasons. (Sweet Corn is another that has turned me into a corn snob… forget that out of season stuff you get at the grocery store). Morels are only available a few weeks each year, can’t be grown commercially, and everyone guards their spot. My Aunt Linda used to have me drive her to her spot long before I got my license so that I could drop her off and pick her up later. You would hate to leave any evidence of where your favorite spot is! Mushrooms tend to grow in sunny spots where decaying old trees are coming up. This year I managed to catch a frog too. Konnor also tried to track a deer down, he followed the tracks through the woods. I remember my dad showing me years ago which tracks are female and which are male (I don’t remember anymore which are which), it’s amazing how you can tell from the tracks.
Out in the woods I was reminded of all the times we would try to walk across logs (on ravines) – I still am amazed that my brother and I never broke a bone in our childhood. We would head out in the woods just to walk. Across streams, through brambles, and with no particular destination in mind.
After mushroom hunting on the way home, I stopped and hopped in the river. It was really cold – but what a memory. It brought back memories of walking in the river, canoeing, and looking for shells. My mother was concerned about all the trash (broken glass, needles, and everything else) that has now ended up in the river…. The river water did feel really good after walking around in the woods while it was hot out!
Finally after getting home my cousin Larry Wayne showed up. He had his dad’s tractor the Super Banana with. My Uncle Lloyde used to take that tractor all over to tractor pulls and my dad would make us attend whenever they were at the local fair. The tractor was loud! They hook the tractor to a sled and you see who can pull the sled the farthest down the track. My Uncle had ended up in the Hall of Fame for Tractor Pulls with his tractor, and that’s where Larry picked it up. The tractor had been put away in the late 70s and yet it was still running! It has 4 Hemi engines and was surprisingly no where near as loud as I remember from my childhood.
I also remember my dad challenging Uncle Lloyd to a tractor pull with his farm tractor. My dad still claims he would have won if my cousins hadn’t hooked the sled to the farm tractor’s axle!
On a side note, Larry has the same birthday as me! 10 years before I was born, Larry was born on the same day. Then Larry’s first daughter was born on his 30th birthday, and my 20th birthday! Same day! Our birthday is a popular day in our family.
Mom has also added a little fish pond that Konnor enjoyed feeding the fish. Growing up our fish pond was huge and my dad had dug it with a big farm tractor, but the little one is nice for Konnor. – My dad would move the pond when he felt like it, and have it stocked with bass and catfish. There may still be catfish in the last one he dug. They originally were trained to come up to the surface when he walked out to the pond – then he would feed them dog food. It’s amazing to think that you can train a catfish to come to the vibration of footsteps!
We took a lot of pictures and everyone was exhausted by the end of the day!
Over the years, I remember taking canoe trips many times each summer. Many were family trips and some were just our family. Usually a whole group would go! Sometimes aunts and friends would ride in inter-tubes, some would take canoes, and the kids would get their own canoe.
We would get a chance to stop a few times throughout the trip and play on sandbars and usually had a collection of mussels to play with by the time we got done. I remember most though going on a trip with friends. We had decided to take a twinkie break every time we saw a rock. Someone would scream twinkie break and we would all stop and eat twinkies while our boat slammed into the twinkie. At one point our red canoe hit a rock hard enough to put a hole in the side. We had to stop at my cousin buddy’s house to try to patch the canoe….. For years after we would point the rock out, still marked with red paint from our canoe.
Years later I took friends while in college and remember my dad telling me ‘ don’t park that truck on the riverbank in the sand. He neglected to say don’t drive it down onto the sand. Needless to say I tore the 4 wheel drive out of the truck. Another time I was 8-9 months pregnant with my first and my husband and I decided to take his family canoeing. Keith parked the truck at the take out point and then took the keys back to my mothers and put them away. After canoeing we arrived and the truck to find we couldn’t get out. Keith and his brother George had to walk all the way back to my mothers and get keys and a vehicle…
My parents owned several spots on the river (still do)… We had spots we viewed as short trips, long trips, and medium, and my parents could tell you how long every put in and take out point would take and they could recognize every spot that you could find help along the way if something came up. The longest distance put in point is at the Ranch. A farm that my parents own with my dad’s first cousin Don. It was the location of a town known as Konky Town long ago. We would then go along the river to the place my kids called the dangerous bridge, the old bridge is gone now and has been replaced but there is still a spot to put in canoes. Going further was the bottom field, my parents have sold that field but they still are friendly with the owner and he would allow us to put in and take out there. (That’s the spot I tore out the 4 wheel drive and the spot that we were stuck with no keys!) Going further, if you want an all day trip, is Bailey’s Bottom. I am sure there are other spots that you can put a canoe in and take out canoes, but all these spots have tons of memories for me! Everything from swinging over the river on a rope to trying to find mussel shells in the river while our parents packed up the boats.
My kids haven’t been on a canoe trip in years (never for the little one). I keep thinking one day we’ll go again. Maybe a big family canoe trip, family reunion style!