"Gonna document this whole weekend!" said my nephew Nick from the back seat of my trusty 12 yr old Ford pick up. "Should I just take pics of interesting stuff to pace myself, or just keep snappin?" I began to carefully explain to him the correct operating procedures and that the four batteries must be loaded into my camera in a very specific way (one that seemed always to elude me on my first two or three attempts) when my eyes were met with a blinding flash ricocheting off the rear view mirror...hence he had his first picture! Thanks to some protection from my new polarized fishing glasses, and my NASCAR like reflexes, I managed to complete a sharp curve in the road (with one eye closed).
As the giant blue spots in the middle of my vision began to fade I was relieved to see that my boat was still in tow and the fishtailing had subsided nicely. With the crisis handled, I thought I'd delight the young fellas with a riveting "old days" account of how "driving with one eye closed" meant something completely different during the 70's. Met with blank stares, looks of disbelief and disdain, I realized that these "children of the 90's" found no humour in a cavalier attitude toward that kind of thing...no matter what the year was. Driving in silence...me with my thoughts, they with their I-pods, I wondered how young Nick had managed to load and fire off a picture so fast on a camera that had never before been in his hands? Hmmm...beginners luck?
As I later discovered, the tone had just been set for the weekend. In the front seat, riding shotgun, another nephew of mine, Eric, was examining and marvelling (I'm sure) at the many features of this 1999 F150. "What's that whistling noise from the top of my door?...how fast does this thing go?...where's your CD player?...how come the rpm gauge shot up and there was a grinding noise from underneath and she gave that awful shudder just now?" "Well Eric, that's all part of the Ford's high performance towing package! Sure, them new ones rrrr a little smoother, if ya like that kinda thing, but this ole girl will get us there!" (A promise that at least did not "set the bar too high.") I pointed out the cassette player, inquiring if they had any "tapes" on them, but then let the subject drift off, resisting the urge to tell them how it used to be 8-tracks and high beam dimmers on the floor, I sensed they were impressed enough for now.
The launch of my boat went pretty routine...me just getting one wet foot rather than both, and a minor incident involving a wildly spinning winch handle and a young man's thumb...the usual stuff. Starting the boat, however, was another matter. She's a 16' Lund powered by a 50hp two stroke Merc, boat and motor perfectly balanced, weight and hull design to power, it operates like a dream, cutting through and planing out til there's "just the prop in the water!" (Dad used to say.) Now, it's no secret that I take every opportunity to brag about this boat, and of course today was no exception, so when I discovered that the battery was dead I was a little embarrassed and mildly disappointed at this temporary glitch. The young fellas, on the other hand, were devastated! "Oh no, now what?...I guess that's it then...should we just go home...well, what are you gonna do?...do you have CAA?...is there a "guy" you can call?" The last question stung!! Is there a "guy" I can call?!!! "Why is it these days our first response to any adversity is to call "the guy"...the TV guy...the plumbing guy...the furnace guy...I could go on," I told them, but as it turns out...I AM the guy!!! "I thought we were all guys here!" Is this not a "guys" weekend?
I'm not sure when it became "out of fashion" to be handy but somehow it has. We seem to feel the need to pay "the guy" rather than solve life's little problems on our own. These young men were about to witness a "handyman" in action. One minute to remove the cowl...two minutes to find a suitable pull cord...two manual pulls of the cord and we were on our way! (Chalk one up for Uncle Doug. Old guys rule!)
Upon arrival at the cottage, I did discover that the young lads were actually handy as well. You know...when it came to toting coolers and heavy gear up a hill, there's nobody handier than young bucks with a strong backs encouraged by a crafty elder like myself putting them against each other in feats of strength. ("Look at that...Nick is carrying a propane tank in each hand and a heavy bag of groceries in his teeth!) (Chalk one up for the boys.)
That afternoon and evening was of course uneventful. I believe we did have guests for dinner. An assortment of gentlemen gathered, as men sometimes do when there is talk of a "guy's weekend,"an unofficial "pot luck dinner" was assembled, and as I recall there were plenty of refreshments on hand as well. The later part of the evening brought lively and spirited political and philosophical debate amongst some of my colleagues gathered around the fire. As the intensity of the debate grew, it seemed to flow and eventually move to an indoor venue...closer to the bar! As I said, the evening was uneventful, meaning there was no furniture broken, and no one required medical attention. While fishing the next morning with Nick, I generously took some time to coach the lad, demonstrating correct casting, presentation, hook setting and landing. Purposefully I saw to it that the subject of the lesson was a small, unobtrusive speciman, so as not to unduly excite my pupil and have him distracted from my teachings.
As it turned out, much like the earlier lesson involving the camera, the lad seemed to pick up complicated instruction from me pretty quick!
Further outdoor life enlightenment that morning included how NOT TO run the boat up on a shoal, lose your paddle in the mud pushing the boat off the shoal, and of course getting your unattended line caught in the prop!
In my defense, because of bright morning sunlight and a "pickerel chop" on the water's surface, the shoal was virtually invisable to the naked eye...and I had somehow, uncharacteristically mislaid my new polarized fishing glasses during the previous evening's engagements.
I have since investigated the disapearance of the glasses, and a chronological review of photos taken during the weekend revealed the following evidence...