"" Writer's Wanderings: Best Past Vacations -- The French River 4

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Best Past Vacations -- The French River 4

When our annual two week fishing trips to the French River in Ontario, Canada, began I can't be sure. The earliest I show up in a picture of our Canadian trips I must have been about four or five years old. The Northern Pike my dad caught was as long as I was tall and it made for a good trophy picture. Tales of seaplane rides to remote lakes and grizzly bear visits in the night added to great family stories but there are many other treasured memories.

I can still smell the pine, hear the whisper as the wind blew through the needles. The river water was icy cold--probably because it came from colder regions. Only on very warm days were we brave enough to jump in and then only to scramble out as quickly as possible. Blueberry picking despite the fear of bears. And fishing.

The water in the river was so very clear that it was hard to tell how deep it was near the wooden dock near our cabin. We would use a couple of my father's old fishing rods and reels to fish from the dock. I could put a worm on a hook since--well, I can't remember a time when I couldn't. I would bait a hook and lower the line into the water. There was never need for a bobber to tell you when a fish was biting. I would just watch until a fish had its mouth around the worm and then jerk up to hook it. To me, the fish seemed big but bigness is relative and I was still pretty small.

The last vacation we spent at the French River was semi-sweet. Dad had decided to buy property at Put-In-Bay, Ohio, and build a second home where we could spend weekends and summers. On the day we left, the first electric light fixture was installed in the cabin where we'd stayed. Progress was moving into the back woods.

Perhaps to lighten the mood or perhaps just because he was who he was and loved a good joke, Dad had some fun as we crossed the Peace Bridge and stopped to clear the border. Those days all you had to do was declare you were a U.S. citizen. My grandfather always had to have his naturalization papers with him though. He would hand them to my dad who would pass them to the border guard. The border guard would then ask if everyone else was born in the U.S.

Instead of just saying "yes" this time Dad said, "The kids and I were born in Ohio and my wife was born in Kokomo."

The border guard looked in the back seat at my mom and asked, "Do you have your papers?"

"Kokomo is in Indiana. I'm a citizen," she replied with a red face. Embarrassed or angry? I can only guess.

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