Two weeks ago, my son experienced his first visit to Canada on an extensive fishing trip with his dad. It was a time of firsts: first time out of the country, first time in an airplane, first time away from home for such an extended period of time.
It was strange and difficult being out of touch with him for so long while they explored the backwoods, but I knew it would be a time of learning and growth and that I needed to let him go.
He came back with stories and adventures he never would have had if he'd stayed in Kansas, and I knew that the time spent with his father was more valuable than anything else.
He is an easy-going boy who rarely gets either mad or excited.
"How was your first plane ride?"
"OK, I guess."
"Wasn't it cool to ride in the cockpit with the pilot?"
"It was all right..."
I think that as time goes on, he will glean much more from those days on the lake and recall it fondly, even if - at 15 - it doesn't seem like a big deal.
But for now, he's riding the fence on whether he liked it or not.
His dad had high hopes, because it wasn't just a trip, it's a family thing. It started back in the 70's when my son's grandfather took his three boys into the Canadian wilderness to fish. They all fell in love with the beautiful lakes and scenery, the wildlife and the quantity - and size - of the Northern Pike and Walleye they were able to snag. As the years went by, the trips continued; always a father/sons excursion or a vacation just for the 'guys'.
Then in 1988, a year before we started our family, I was invited along. Our good friends, also newly married, accompanied us on the long drive up to Ontario. We flew into Maynard Lake Lodge where we spent a week jigging in the fingers of the beautiful blue lake. It was an experience I'll never forget; a time in my life when things were simple
and easy, and worries were confined to where to pull up for shore lunch. We laughed over make-shift rain gear made from trash bags, community showers and some of the interesting characters we met at the lodge where we stayed. We experienced biting flies, harsh sunburns and hard bunk beds, and though for me, once was enough, it was a one-time adventure I'll always cherish.
Our son may or may not go back next year and either way, in his words, "It's OK". He is cut - just enough - out of the same cloth as his mother that he tends to look elsewhere for things that bring him joy. But regardless, he'll still have these memories of his 15th summer: the sun on his face, a view from the air, and cobalt blue in his back pocket.