June 21, 2009 in Features

Dads give summer its shine

How fitting that Father’s Day, start of season are both today
By The Spokesman-Review
 

Maybe you remember your father showing you how to bait a hook, the tang of his Dutch Masters Perfecto and Aqua Velva clashing with the dank pungency of a leaky rowboat and sun-baked night crawlers.

Remember those low-collar shirts he wore, the ones that looked like bowling league rejects? Who knew retro-affecting hipsters would deem them stylish one day.

Or perhaps you recall playing catch on a barbered lawn, your dad’s soft tosses tracing lazy arcs against the deep summer sky before plopping into your surprised glove.

Or maybe you remember … well, the list is as long as an unwound spool of kite string.

Parenting isn’t just a seasonal undertaking, of course. It’s a year-round deal.

But Father’s Day coincides with the official start of summer this year. That’s practically a printed invitation to contemplate the father/solstice interface, especially here in the summer-worshipping Inland Northwest.

What did your dad teach you about making the most of this season?

Typically, many of the scenes in that slide show are childhood memories.

“Dad loved to go camping at Priest Lake,” said Bev Hatch, who lives in Sandpoint but grew up in the Spokane Valley (Central Valley High class of ’66).

He was into it all – water-skiing, huckleberries, you name it.

In fact, her late father’s enthusiasm for North Idaho lake life has a lot to do with why Hatch feels “blessed” to live where she does.

Surely she is not alone.

Now there’s a simple reason why we file summertime recollections of our fathers in a special folder. It’s called vacation.

In many cases, time off from their jobs offered glimpses of dads quite unlike any others.

There he was, making good time on a marathon car trip that possibly violated the Geneva Conventions:

“C’mon, you can hold it a little longer, there’ll be another rest area in 70 miles.”

There he was, fooling around in the garden, muttering at tomato plants.

There he was, in a swimsuit, looking like he had forgotten that he was too old to have fun.

There he was, drinking beer from a steel can.

There he was, showing you how to do something that made you feel a notch or two more grown up.

Karen Mobley’s father taught her to tie flies and fish in the creek by their house. He’s gone now, but his daughter hasn’t forgotten what she learned.

“For me, no summer is complete without at least one trip to a small stream with a lot of willow bushes and a couple of days of very careful casting for trout,” said Mobley, arts director for the city of Spokane.

To be sure, not everyone has smiling memories of their fathers. But for those who do, the summer flashbacks tend to be some of the sweetest.

This has always been the season when dads would sit outside and tell their kids what the summers were like way back when.

Sometimes, when twilight lingered and the lemonade was so potent it hurt your jaw, those stories cast a spell. Even the crickets seemed to pipe down so they could listen.


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