Getting to Know You

I think it would be nice to share one cool memory from your life.

When I was 16–From the time I was very little I loved the outdoors. Like, no fear of the dark out in the middle of the woods gone all day exploring type of love. My junior year in high school I went to work at High Country Packers in the north central cascades. I lived in a wall tent and took guided tours and hunting camps on horseback into a remote wilderness area for the next 5 years. But only one time in my life have I truly been alone was three weeks one early summer. I cleared trails and camped in the back country and never saw another human being. I still like quiet. I remember when I came back to civilization and heard a voice speaking. It felt strange. I think if I had to choose another lifetime to live it would be the frontier America 1820-1880.

Author: jim-

One minute info blogs breaking the faith trap.

79 thoughts on “Getting to Know You”

  1. Wind chill is for real. Height of the waves is another consideration, when you are tethered to the boat 🙂 I’ve been bounced and dragged and caught up in trot lines and nets. Dammit here is another story, I was out there one day it was blowing probably S at 20mph with higher gusts. I know a little place where if the wind is just right, it doesn’t get overly rough, and there are shell there. So that’s where I went. I came up from a dive and there was another diver very close to my boat, he was down. It is a significant no no, an unwritten code, to jump in on another diver, so my feathers got a tad ruffled. But the wind soon drug him beyond where I was at, and I jumped back in. It soon got so rough it was painfull the waves yanking on my tether on the weight belt, I said to hell with it and quit. When I got back in the boat the other guy was nowhere to be seen. It was a rough S.O.B. on the lake.

    I heard the next day that diver died out there. They found him washed up several miles downriver on a levy.

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    1. Well that quieted the room.

      Odd this reply seems to be at the top of the page, I’m pretty sure it was a reply to Violet relating to wind chill…?

      But hey I just got back from the Dr. with a steroid shot and a blister pack of steroids to dry me up and get rid (I hope) of this nagging cough.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Hey, WP ate one of my postings a few days ago. Took me probably 30 minutes or more to put it together with links, tags, and dialogue, then hit “Publish” and it freakin disappeared.

          So count me in on the conspiracy! I bet it was aliens, or the Illumiati!

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      1. I did get your reply…but my son is home from school today due to a horrendous blizzard, so I’m getting interrupted a LOT. He’s 6 and very high energy. So my internet time is a bit hit and miss!

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      2. Feel better soon, Shell! My hubs can home early from work due to the blizzard, skidded sideways off the driveway, and now our car is stuck in our front yard. We’ll be dealing with snow removal for the next several hours so I’ll be scarce.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Oh jeebus, that’s bad. I’ve known several people who died in the mississippi…mostly fisherman, but sometimes recreational boaters too. It was worse in the 90s because they hadn’t banned drinking and boating yet. I can’t imagine being tethered to a rocking boat on the surface. Cold water is dangerous enough on its own.

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  2. Cool memories…

    I was a Cub Scout for a time, went to a campout thing, it was a balmy day, comfortable in a t shirt. Went to sleep in a tent, woke up the next morning it has snowed and the temps sub freezing. I was so cold I had trouble walking, but managed to creak along till I found a fire to warm up by.

    Then there was the time I was hanging with my buddies, we all lived in the woods as much as we could get by with, there was 4 or 5 of us, and somebody decided to break the ice and walk the creek for what seemed like a half mile. By the time I got home my feet felt like cinder blocks. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Peer pressure thing I guess.

    Then as an adult I was a commercial diver, I worked many a cold winter with nothing more than a wet suit, and a cooler in the boat with some hot water in it. You make the dive, suffer through the icepick headache from the cold ass water, gather as much shell as you can in a 1.5 hour dive, get back to the boat with no feeling in your hands/feet, then throw your mask/gloves/ and hands/feet in the cooler of (not so hot anymore) water for a quick warm up. Then jump back in. there were days as I was heading out to work, the boat was breaking a layer of ice, till I got out to the river proper, where the current kept it from freezing.

    Cool enough? 🙂

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    1. Holy crap way cool. I have a buddy that was a commercial geoduck diver. He has some similar stories of crazy. Now I get it. Shelldigger. Cool. And cold.

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      1. I had heard of the geoduck thing, thought about trying it, but never did.

        I have worked as a diver on the Tennessee river, the Cumberland (still in Tn.) The Guadalupe river in Texas. And the Mississppi river between Ia. and Ill. And some lake in Texas I forget the name of off hand.

        As a young man I was a deckhand on a towboat. Worked the Mississippi, upper and lower. The Illinois. The Ohio, The Green, and the Missouri river.

        Guess I’ve been a water rat most of my days. Still am.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I have always wanted to travel on a freighter. See the world like the workers see it. Work my way around the world. That would be cool.

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          1. It was pretty neat on a towboat. I enjoyed the time on the front of tow, where it is quiet except for the water running up against the barges. Then there was the stern, where you could literally get lost observing the wheel wash.

            The freighter sounds nifty, but I don’t know about being out on the open ocean for weeks at a time. At least on a towboat I could still see land 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I’ve been to sea a couple times. I liked it but a hundred miles out is a little different than a thousand. Be fun to try.

              Liked by 1 person

      1. Heh, when we were kids and got enough snow, we would make snow cave igloo -ish monstrosities by piling up as much snow as you could physically manage, then dig it out. Never did try to sleep in one 😉

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    2. So that’s why you’re shelldigger. What kind of shells were you after?

      I don’t think I could have held up under the conditions you describe…I probably would have gone home crying after an hour. My 100 lb body doesn’t take the cold very well.

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      1. Fresh water mussels. Not for food, but for the cultured pearl industry. It just so happens that the Tn river has the best quality shell in the world for the making of cultured pearls. There is a difference in the quality dependent on the depth. Lake shell are the best, gathered from 5-around 35 feet. After that you start getting river shell, from 40 feet on down. I’ve done a lot of deep water work and a helluva lot of shallower work in the 30 years I was in it.

        Nowadays, the demand is low, buyers are shutting down, only 1 (of 4) company left buying here locally, and a handful of divers still working. I’m kinda glad my back retired me several years ago. It was a good ride while it lasted. Every day an adventure.

        … I saw a lot of guys who could not take it for long. One thing I learned early on is you can’t judge a book by its cover. I saw big burly rough and gruff types that didn’t last a day, and little skinny dudes you wouldn’t think could fight their way out of a paper bag make a career out of it.

        I even heard a story once, I didn’t see this myself, but anyway a couple of SEALS figured if us wussies could do it, they could manage. They geared up a boat and went to work. They were done in a week, saying “WE” were effin crazy 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

        1. They were right. You were crazy. It is good to do something a little out of the ordinary. So many are going medical or MBA these days and missing out on living. I wanna do it all!

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            1. Even before I was an atheist I figured about 30 years after I die no one will remember anything about me. I don’t have any illusions about that, so I decided to make my mark my way. Initials in trees in the most unusual places. That will peak some lonely mountaineers interest some day.

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            2. Yeah, but as atheists we know to enjoy what we have in the now. The afterlife insurance policy (religion) never ever has to prove it pays off.

              That is an interesting way to preserve ones mortality 🙂

              I figure if my kids can find 2 or 3 good thing to say about me, and maybe have a good memory or two, and my old buddies have that conversation “you remember SD?” I’ll have done well enough.

              Liked by 2 people

          1. When you see that with my eye, those pussies are wearing dry suits! As in dry on the inside. Very little water creeps in. And you can wear insulating clothing underneath, and they are highly wind resistant. I know this because I did the dry suit thing for several years before the hot water thing came around. Someone developed a system that draws river water in, runs it through a copper coil over a propane driven flame. It takes some tinkering to get them just right, but it works. It caught on. Just writing that made me doubt my sanity for a moment lol.

            I am glad you spent some time on the river. I recommend it. 🙂 I like to go fishing, but the truth is I can go out there and anchor off and be quite content.

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            1. I had no idea you could heat water and run it in your suit…back in my day we called that peeing in your suit. The new technology sounds more hygenic and more consistent. 😉

              My dad was the fisherman, but I liked to go out there and just sit on the boat, or sometimes on an island, and be in peace while he wrangled fish. He never understood why I wasn’t “bored from doing nothing,” but that was my form of meditation. Of course in MN we have epic mosquitoes and it took awhile to perfect my gear…cuz sitting there slapping yourself silly from the bloodsuckers was NOT fun.

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            2. They are utterly horrendous and some are as big as quarters. No repellent works well enough so you have to go for full body netting. The trick is to put the netting on before you leave your car. If you put the net suit on while you’re standing outdoors you’ll trap 5 million bloodsuckers INSIDE it. Ask me how I know.

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            3. I, unfortunately, have peed in my wetsuit a few times. The couple of minutes of warmth is not worth the stink at the end of the day 😉 But sometimes the urge to go, and the time it would take out of the day (going back to the boat with a half sack of shell, getting in the boat, relieveing ones self, and getting started again) was a time sink that was non productive. So…

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            4. Makes sense to me, and yeah, I can imagine the stench when trying to peel that suit off at the end of the trip.

              I will forever be jealous of men doing outdoor activities because they can easily relieve themselves most of the time (a wetsuit being the exception). As a women I have to totally drop trou, and either get an a$$ful of mosquito bites or frostbite on my lady bits. In desperation I tried to tinkle through mosquito netting once, which seemed like it should work, but it really didn’t. All this is unequivocal proof that god is a man.

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            5. No doubt the guy has it easier in such situations. I feel for ya.

              You would think that all those teeny little holes would make for a good place to pee. Surface tension is a cold hearted bugger 🙂

              Well if god is a man, he is a real S.O.B.!

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            6. LOL I had indeed forgotten to consider the properties of surface tension back then. It only took once for science to give me my comeuppance! 😀

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            7. My dad would drop me off on a small island in the Mississippi and I’d amuse myself there for awhile while he was fishing a short distance away. So he was always nearby, but it meant I got to enjoy a bit of solitude without walleye dripping and flopping on me as my dad reeled ’em in. Usually it was swell, but sometimes the vegetation would rip my net suit and the skeeters would swarm in. It’s really hard to relax when gallons of your blood are getting sucked out and you hear the constant whine of skeeter terrorists in your ears. They are truly a plague in these parts.

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            8. Oh, one more diver story and I’ll quit. But I went to the river one cold winter morning looking to work. When I got to the boat ramp a couple of guys were launching a boat so I had to wait a few minutes. I could see a strong N wind blowing out in the channel and it was retty rough, probably 3 footer whitecaps. It was right around 35 degrees at the time.

              The guys launching the boat in front of me, one of them I knew, a diver. I watched in some disbelief as he put on a wet suit, rigged up for water skiing, on one ski, and the boat took off dragging the diver skier behind, he crashed once, the boat swung around, picked him up and they took off again, they went out probably a mile, into the rough N wind, turned around and came back, without the skier crashing again. When they got back to the boat ramp the diver/skier pulled out a 20 dollar bill and gave it to the driver of the boat. Apparently the night before, in an alcohol fueled conversation, a bet was made that the diver guy, could get up on one ski, and make the entire trip without crashing.

              I wound up not working that day. Sometimes you get there and the wind is a little too strong and it severely limits your options on where you can work. (the weatherman rarely gets the wind forecast right, if they say S at 10mph, you can bet on 15mph+) Plus a stout N wind on a cold day is no fun even when you are dry…

              Now somebody else own up to a personal cool story, more than enough from me 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

            9. I love your stories! In Minnesota we are deeply familiar with the concept of windchill. We’ve got them prairie winds gusting over the land here, and it ain’t for the faint of heart in the winter.

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        2. I’m fascinated how skinny guys could make it when sometimes the more burly guys couldn’t. I wonder what the biomechanics of that are? Muscle is the best insulator, and fat is so-so…if those skinny guys had neither muscle or fat you’d think they’d keel over from hypothermia.

          Were there any women divers who did this cold-water diving? Women have less muscle and are more prone to hypothermia, so I wonder if any of them could hold up. Or perhaps scuba gear is too heavy for most females to sling around by themselves?

          I’ve only known one diver in real life…she was my friend and classmate in highschool and was prom queen. A beautiful, smart, kind girl. Shortly after graduation she joined her dad at his local dive instructor business. When she was 19 they were out leading a group of tourist divers in some tropical local, and something went wrong with one of the tourist divers…I don’t know if he got trapped by something, had a medical problem, or if something happened to his tank. She refused to leave him and died trying to help him…the student also died. Her dad found them both but it was too late. Very sad story. When I went to her funeral I tried to think about how she died doing something she adored, something she loved more than anything else. That has to count for something, though her young age was really a heartbreaker.

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          1. I was looking at a study several years ago about arctic survival. In the same scenarios some people thrived while others died waiting. It all came down to mindset. In short, those that could treat it like an adventure more or less survived, while those engulfed in worry died. One I recall was snowmobilers. After two weeks a helicopter found his sled and he crawled out of a hole and just wanted some gas. The other they found dead by his sled. Both were similarly prepared while one died, the other basically thrived. Mindset versus fear we’re the determining factors. Some are pussies, some are adventurers.

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            1. I don’t know about that. I’m a RN…I worked on both the medical side of things and on the psychiatric side of things (my longest stint by far was in psychiatry). People like to think they can overcome anything with the right mindset, but this is simply not true. Your physical body is also a huge factor. Your body and mind can work together for benefit or harm, but the mind doesn’t independently calls the shots. An adventurous mindset alone will not keep your cells from freezing and dying. A can-do attitude did not keep many people in the hospital from dying of cancer. Now I’m not implying a positive mindset won’t help tremendously…I’m just saying it’s not the only, or even the final, factor.

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            2. I don’t think anyone has ever *completely* agreed with me in my entire life. I shall be more than happy to accept a “mostly” agreement. LOL

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          2. River diving is called black water diving. The visibility from 5-10 feet down is decent, maybe a 3 foot area in front of you (if it’s a good sunny day), but that is dependent on conditions. When the current is up after a big rain it’s like being in chocolate milk. You can’t see your hand in fron of your face even in shallow water.After you get down to 15-20 ft down it gets dark, still can see your hand in front of your face but not much else. When you get down around 40 ft down forget about it. Zero visibility. The darkest dark you can possibly imagine.

            That’s all in normal conditions. If the current is up from a heavy rain, the silt is so bad it is too dark to see your hand in your face in shallow water.

            There are stumps out there, commercial fishermans nets and trot lines. You can crawl up to a stump and peek in there and there will be a huge catfish looking back at you. You can inadvertently pick up small turtles thinking it might be a shell, that’s good for a heart spike. There are drop offs of 30-40 ft in places with steep walls, Then there are huge cruisers that troll along ripping off a enormous 5-6 wake behind them. Towboats are a concern if you are in deep water. I know of 3 guys that bought the farm because of towboats.

            So you have those hazards. You also have to be concerned with your dive gear. Things go wrong at the worst possible moments. I have have had several close calls there. I have been hung up in nets and trotlines. Which by themsleves is a bad spot. If there is a huge fish right beside you caught in the gear, it really gets interesting because they are freaked out and struggling like the dickens. Nets are no fun. You run into one and your first instinct is to back up. Well the net has already snagged your mask and peels it back to let it fill with water. Oops. So clear the mask. Then you work the net off the mask, then back up. Your movement backwards creates a vacuum effect and pulls it right back at you. So you have to work your way free of the net slowly and carefully, then using both hands gather up the net, then hold that bunched up net with one hand outstretched as you back out. Or if you are serious about not having to go back to the boat (time sink) you can pull the net down to the bottom, carefully, step over the damn thing carefully, and pull it behind you a couple of feet before you let it go and move on. Trot lines. You probably know this, a trot line is a long length of heavy twine, the main line, the main line has anywhere from 50-100 hooks hanging from leader lines off the main line. They are usually out in deeper water along the river channel, but not always. And usually you won’t know you are caught up in one till you can’t pull the boat anymore. You climb the lifeline back to the boat , find that a hook is embedded in your line. If you are lucky you can unhook the hook and work out of the problem. If the hook is really stuck you have to pull out your dive knife and cut the leader from the hook. Free of the hook go back to the bottom, or back to the boat. going back to the boat means you will drift behind the trot line. Or if you do not want to do that, grab the main line and pull the whole damn thing back down with you, step over the line and let it go. Are we having fun yet?

            So it’s not the physical makeup of a person that decides if they can handle the job. It is the mental toughness, and a short memory helps. It would take both hands and both feet to count the close calls I’ve had. And 10 pages of running into situations that will scare the crap out of you.

            Some people as it turns out are skeered of the dark. They don’t last a day. Other people not so skeered of the dark try it for a while, but the constant survival threats convince them to try less dangerous work.

            Yes! There was one woman I know of who not only tried it, she did a good job of it for I’m thinking 5-6 years before she got into other work.

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            1. I’ll tell you right now, if my back hadn’t give out on me I’d be heading out this morning! 🙂

              I absolutely loved diving. I still have my gear, my old work boat is shot, but I restored a good boat last year, well 2 actually over a couple of years, I could not get back into the shell harvesting thing because the back, but I could go for fun. Even when I was still digging shell with my bad back I could dig shell all day long, that wasn’t a problem. Getting the shell in the boat, graded out for market, sorted in buckets, then sold at the buyer is what killed me. You have to get the shell in the bags first, I learned to use floats and float 2 sacks before I went back to the boat instead of pulling them and me up hand over hand on the lifeline, (I did that for wayyyy too long.) Then you got to run back to the floats and pull them in. Then grade, then throw them in a shaker at the buyer, then wheelbarrow the shell to a bin. That’s handling the shell at least 5 times by my count) I did an off the cuff estimate based on average number of days x average take in shell, over a 30 year period, I came up with over 3 million lb of shell taken to market. That was being conservative in my estimates. Can you imagine 3 million of anything?

              Being in the water is like being an explorer on another planet. Despite all of the risks I loved it. I still have diving dreams man! It is part of my psyche after 3 decades of doing it.

              If I never get back in the water I’ll die a diver. So yeah, call me crazy lol. 🙂

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            2. Thanks for giving me an idea of some of the safety issues. I did not consider the visibility problem…as you well know, the Mississippi isn’t exactly a clear body of water. Most times you can’t see 6″ down from the surface in my area. Even the freshwater lakes around here are so filled with iron the water basically looks like a red slab of granite. Parents are super paranoid around here about their kids swimming because if they go under and don’t come up, you’ll never find them.

              The net and fishing lines are a terrible mess even for boats/people on the surface…can’t imagine dealing with the dangers of them while diving.

              I surprised you didn’t go out in pairs with another diver consider all the dangers, but perhaps that that wouldn’t be helpful given the conditions you worked in. My diver friend died and she was out there with her dad and 10 other diving students/tourists.

              You certainly had quite the interesting employment! I think I could have handled the dark and the dangers (working on a locked psych unit was not safe work…we had to be saved by the SWAT team once and the police several times). I do *not* think though that I could have handled the cold.

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            3. Some guys had helpers in the boat and payed them a percentage for the days take. I did that myself when working deep water for river shell. River shell add up in weight quick, I could get a thousand pounds a day in places. Sometimes more.

              Some people would have a person in the boat just for safety. Which I always thought kind of silly, if anything happens to you in the water, you’re probably dead before they can do anything about it. Of course someone in the boat is a good storm warning system. I didn’t even get into the weather risks lol. Ever been in a lightning frenzied severe storm on Ky. Lake? Ever run into 20 foot* waves in a 16 foot boat? Good times… (They call the Tn. river basin Ky. Lake for some reason, well it occupies both Ky. and Tn, it is both a river and a lake, which is why I interchange the words from time to time)

              Now I have had several diver buddies, and we are still friends. We would work in the same areas and sort of keep an eye on each other. Help each other out when it was called for. Spare parts for dive gear, or making outboard repairs, or failing the repair tow each other in. And if you were hauling ass back to the truck because you came up from a dive and saw an enormous black storm coming in and saw your buddy was still in the water, completely ignorant of the situation, you would get in close and rev the outboard a few times. We all knew this was a signal to get back to the boat and see what was up.

              The Mississippi is usually chocolate milk 🙂 With LOTS of current. it is probably the most dangerous river I’ve been in.

              Wow, if you can handle that kind of stuff there might be a diving opportunity for ya. I can show you ways to manage the cold. 🙂

              * A lot of people would never suspect it can get that bad. It can. it depends on location, current, and if the wind is blowing 40+

              I have a good story about that… maybe some other time. We have killed Jims blog I think.

              Liked by 2 people

  3. You’re a lot like me. There’s nothing I love more than to be out alone in nature. Unfortunately this freaked my parents out and they wouldn’t let me have those adventures when I was a kid. A girl alone in the forest? No!

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      1. It’s not just frowned upon…it gets you thrown in jail. In our area a mom got arrested for letting her 9 year old son play unsupervised in the (suburban) neighborhood park, one block away from her house. She had simply given him a watch and told him to come back home at 6pm for dinner.

        I can’t even comment on the ridiculousness of that, but many people thought she *deserved* her jail time.

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        1. That made national news. We have miles of mountains in our back yard here. The kids are a little more cautious than I was but they’re getting their cowboy smarts on.

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          1. Do they teach kids any mountaineering in the public schools down there? I would have to think that’s an essential life skill in such an area. I would never let my kid go roaming alone in a mountainous area, but I do think a 9 year old in a suburban park should be ok.

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            1. No school stuff but most of it is just a way of life. They have enough sense to be ok. I think the woods are safer than a park. My brothers called me jungle jim when I was a kid. It’s my home really.

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            2. The woods are safer from people, that’s for sure…but there are bears and wolves in it, and ones who’ve become unafraid of humans due to dumbshits feeding them!

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            3. Yep. When I worked in the back country I saw animals that looked at me like they’d never seen a human before. But yes you have a point. Most predators are afraid and afraid your lucky to ever see them.

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    1. Free range parenting. Nobody thought anything about me walking or riding my bike to the woods down the street. Might hook up with some friends and spend the day, or go it alone, didn’t matter, we had a ball down there walking creeks, climbing hills, skimming rocks across the creek, catching crawdads. When we got bigger, the friends I ran with we transitioned to dirt bikes from bicycles, and spent even more time in the woods. I’d roll in around suppertime and nothing was said, except maybe “how did you get so dirty? Take a bath before supper.” It was a different time then.

      These days you could easily get into trouble for free range parenting. Those days it was meh, let em go to the woods. These days I might hesitate to let kids experience things the way I did as a kid. I did manage though to take my boys out on the river with me a lot on weekends and during school vacation. They learned how to swim proficiently, how to find arrowheads in among the creekbanks and riverbanks, how to catch and clean fish, and how to grade my shell for market. But, we did those things together with me there just in case any sort of trouble cropped up.

      I’m glad I was able to do those things with my boys. I’m glad some dads take their daughters to the river too 🙂 FWIW I raised a daughter myseff but she just wasn’t into the river thing, and she did not go much…

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      1. My brother was totally uninterested in going to the river, and mom didn’t like it either. They were both very artistic though so they had their own fun. My dad and I liked nature so we spent a lot of time outside. Thankfully he never made me clean fish…I was a very sentimental child and couldn’t bear the thought of killing one. How ironic I had no problem at all with eating them.

        Jim takes his kids to a…cabin? house? shed?…in Pamana and they’ve had a very interesting childhood out in nature. Big bugs and all!

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        1. I often wonder how city folk get by without enjoying the great outdoors. I guess there are weekend warriors, but I’ve seen the type, and most of them take an hour to launch a boat. 😉

          I had the same sentiment about fish at first. I was probably 8 then. But after enough time I wanted to learn how the job was done. So I watched keenly, and eventually began helping.

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  4. At 5 I was introduced for the first time to my nanny’s little daughter. Up until that point I didn’t know there was another child in her life other than me. I took the girl to the deep end of the pool and pushed her in. She survived but I was left with a reputation.

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