By the time our camp site was ship shape, Old Sol was just starting to kiss the tops of the towering pines and tamaracks good-bye for another day. It was time to catch some trout for supper.
Dad got his fly rod set up first, as usual, pulled on his hip boots, grabbed his net and creel and headed for the river. I was about five minutes behind him.
Evening is the second most beautiful time of day. Morning is a hands down first! I always felt watchin’ things wake up and come to life was a bit better than listenin’ to things tellin’ me they was gettin’ ready to go to bed.
The sounds of evening were just starting to orchestrate. A robin was perched high in a birch tree chirping his "I want rain" call. I knew he was out of luck. A high pressure area was right smack dab on top of us. A blue jay "jayed" somewhere in the forest on the far side of the river. A pair of mourning doves "cooed" to each other a bit downstream. Grandfather frog croaked his o.k. for the rest of his clan to harmonize with him. And a dozen or more of Mother Nature’s assorted sounds joined in the chorus.
A bit of early evening fog was just beginning to settle along the shaded portion of the river bank, when the most unforgettable, sweet sound one will ever hear on the banks of a trout stream began. A white throat sparrow softly chirped out his rendition of the beginning of "Oh Canada". As I stood at the edge of the water listening to Mother Nature providing such wonderful sounds, it seemed almost like a sin that we humans had trespassed into this pristine sanctuary. But then again, I was getting hungry. I waded in and readied my fly rod.
Dad was upstream in the bend above me casting his fly line, which was making a soft swishing sound, with that ever so easy rhythm he had tried unsuccessfully to teach me. He was poetry in motion. Dad was a magician with a fly rod. I watched him for a minute or two, and then began to beat the water with my favorite fly, a Royal Coachman.
A few small trout were rising to a hatch of May flies at the tail end of the pool I was flailing to a froth with my fly. No luck. I reluctantly changed my coachman to a May fly and resumed frothing the pool. And by the grace of divine intervention I actually hooked and landed a trout. Not a record breaker, but a nice chunky ten inch rainbow. I had my supper.
Trout number two had just entered my creel when I realized Charlie had not yet appeared. I started to get a little worried that something was wrong, again. But then I remembered Charlie was always slow at getting his act together anytime we went out of dooring. Dad said it was either because he came from the city or was left handed, or both. I guess Charlie just thought about what he had to do too much instead of just doing it.
My third trout of the evening had just finished thrashing his last thrash when I heard Charlie stomping down the hill to the river. Twilight had already begun to set in, and Charlie was in a hurry to get in a bit of fishing before full dark. He was about to experience the dangers one might encounter by hurrying into unknown waters.
Looking back on what happened next, I guess it was my fault for not telling Charlie about the giant, flat, slippery rock just under the surface of the river about ten feet from shore. Well, as Charlie came charging into the river, he reminded me of a movie I saw about our Marines rushing ashore at Omaha Beach on D-Day. Then Charlie discovered the rock.
I tried real hard not to laugh, but he sure was funny the way he stubbed his toe on the rock, did a nearly perfect forward flip, and landed with a splash that silenced all God’s creatures for a mile in all directions. Dad looked downstream and asked, "WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?" I couldn’t see what color Charlie’s face was now, ‘cause I was laughing too hard.
As Charlie struggled to his feet, his first remark did nothing to suppress my mirth. "I guess I stumbled on a rock." My laughter intensified to a roar. Dad headed downstream to see what was causing all the ruckus.
Dad arrived just after Charlie had dragged his soaked, dripping body out of the river. He was sitting on a stump, pouring water out of one of his hip boots. There were several gallons. Dad took one look at Charlie and knew right off what had happened. Then Dad broke down with uncontrollable laughter. When I vividly described exactly what had happened to Charlie, Dad roared even harder. This time I knew what was so funny. Charlie’s face had turned blue.
After Charlie dumped the water out of his other boot, we walked the short distance to our camp. Dad got a blazin’ campfire roaring, and Charlie stripped off all his soggy clothes and hung them on forked sticks around the fire to start the dryin’ process. Every so often Dad or I would look at Charlie and let out another little giggle. Charlie didn’t seem to be able to fine anything funny about the situation. But at least his blue face was gone and it was just pale again.
Besides my three trout, Dad’s creel contained five. No surprise there. While I went back to the river to clean our catch, Dad set up his Coleman gas stove and started frying some potatoes and heating up a can of beans. Charlie just sat close to the fire and kinda shivered. His face looked red again, but I guess it was just the reflection from the fire.
Supper was the best ever. Fresh trout fried up in a little butter over a low flame, a pile of crispy French fries, a mound of baked beans, and a couple of slices of Mom’s homemade bread, made a meal beyond belief. Dad grossed Charlie out a little when he ate a couple of fried trout heads. Dad always ate some trout heads when we had trout for supper. I tied ‘um a few times, but the only part of the head I can really say is tasty is the cheek meat. I did eat some cheeks. Charlie passed on both items. And his face looked pale again.
After we cleaned up our mess from supper, Dad fired up his Coleman lantern and we retired to our tent. Although it was only nine thirty, we were plenty tired. It was too bad we didn’t get much sleep.
We had no more than turned off the lantern and rolled up in our blankets on that mattress of soft, fragrant boughs, when Charlie made an announcement.
"SOMETHING IS CRAWLING ON ME!" And then his flashlight flashed on.
Well, about that time, I thought I felt something crawling on me. Dad agreed, he too felt something crawling on him. By now there were three flashlights turned on. And we discovered the crawling sensation was not our imaginations! All three of us were infested with wood ticks!
Dad re-lit his Coleman lantern and the tent blazed with yellow brightness. As our eyes grew accustomed to the bright light, we beheld an awesome spectacle. Wood ticks were everywhere! The tent contained dozens, maybe hundreds! Charlie had another announcement.
"AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!" I figured bein’ from the city, Charlie was pretty excited about seein’ so many wood ticks in one place, not to mention the fact that several dozen were crawlin’ around on various parts of his body. Charlie musta thought we hadn’t heard his first, "AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH", ‘cause he did again.
"AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!" It was a little louder this time. In fact, all the night sounds we had been hearin’ stopped. Charlie’s face was back to pale.
Dad went outside and returned to the tent carrying a bucket wit