As I sat on the back step this morning seeing the bright sunshine but feeling the brisk north wind, and wishing the weather would either drop into the freezer and stay there awhile or become spring and stay spring, I heard the distinct “pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty” spring call of a male cardinal. That told me that no matter how cold the wind is or how deep the snow still gets, spring is waiting in the wings. A little thing maybe, but it gives me hope.
When Joyce and I got married, she explained to me her “points” system. Everything I do for her garners me one point; sometimes that one point is bigger than others, but is still only one point. I’ve never fully understood her system and have always thought it a bit unfair that a surprise trip to see the Lion King live on stage rates the same as a few sips from my Leprechaun shake at Spangles. But the other side of the coin is that a few sips of my Leprechaun shake gets me just as much recognition as most anything else. A little thing maybe, but it makes me appreciate how easily she is pleased.
We have our grandson Jacob all day every-other Sunday, and last Sunday after church he and I went for a walk out into the McPherson Valley Wetlands just outside town. I was telling him about the mega beaver dam out there and promised to show him. Vehicles are not allowed on the wetlands, and getting to the beaver dam means a several hundred yard walk, so we parked the pickup and struck out on foot along a trail that’s kept mowed through the tall native grass. We’d only gone a short way when he spotted some feathers on the trail. We each picked up a few, and with them clutched tightly in his hand, moseyed on. When we got to the beaver dam we discussed why it was built like it was, knocked around there awhile and headed back toward the truck. A few more feathers were added to the collection on the walk back, and suddenly I remembered a small turtle shell I had found there and procured for just such a time as this. I told him I had found something for him that was either in the back of the pickup or in my trapping shed at home, and he pestered me the rest of the walk to tell him what it was. It was not in the truck, so once at home, I parked at the shed and retrieved it while he waited in the truck. It was a totally intact top-and-bottom shell about four inches across from a box turtle of some sort. I cleaned it up with my knife and gave it to him. Taking after his dad, Jacob’s a KU basketball fan, and as I gave him that silly turtle shell you’d have thought the whole KU basketball team had him on their shoulders running with him around the court. His eyes were the size of dinner plates and he couldn’t wait to get inside and show the shell to grandma.
I’m afraid I often miss the boat when it comes to sharing my love of the Kansas outdoors with others. I’m always looking for big outcomes; for example, why take someone along with me to check traps when I might not catch anything today? Why take a kid deer hunting when we might not see a deer? Why take someone fishing when we may not catch any fish? I need to learn to see the feathers and the little turtle shell along the trail (remember my wife’s scoring system?) They’re little things, but to people yearning to experience the outdoors, they are like a ride on the shoulders of the KU basketball team (unless they’re K State fans!)…Continue to Explore Kansas Outdoors.
Steve can be contacted by email at [email protected]