Fly fishing, part 1

“Too many people, too many cars…”

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.”
~Norman MacLean

Dateline: Inside the outside

I grew up in a shout.

I grew up in a three story house framed by driveways and concrete.

One car garage for the Oldsmobile Delta 88, could see the clothing store roof from my bedroom window, in the summer when the wooden windows in the wooden sash got raised, could smell the special of the day from the restaurant vent fans on the roof.

I grew up watching the sunset glimmer off metal roof fans.

I played in a yard measured in feet, not acres, a small swing set, small blowup pool, rose bushes lined the neighbor’s garage.

Guy, Davie, Frankie and Vinny filled my block, at one time trees lined the middle of the street, it was a boulevard ‘till the city came and cut all the trees down, paved the road edge to edge.  Easier to plow that way, I was told.

They left the tree out front between our sidewalk and the curb, played step ball against the church across the street until Father Dominic came out and chased the “hooligans” away.

I grew up being blessed and cursed by Father Dominic. 

When the priests in the rectory weren’t looking, Sister Mary Josephine taught all the step ball boys how to swing a baseball bat. I was 12 before I figured out that Jesus might not have actually been a New York Yankee fan.

Father Dominic baptized me, one of my tears fell on his coffin, either blessed or cursed, he was a friend, most times just a guy who lived across the street.

Welcome to my childhood neighborhood.

Thought you’d like to know.

“…take me to Memphis, Mercury, or Mars…”

“Still round the corner there may wait, a new road or a secret gate.”
J. R. R. Tolkien

I was 10 years old the first time I remember hearing, quiet.

And it scared me.

I stood on a small hill above a field of fresh cut Canadian hay, a bowl of darkness and stars sat above and covered the land from horizon to horizon.

My Grandma Tess held my hand and pointed out the man in the moon, I gripped her hand as a tear rolled down my cheek. I had never been in the open before, never been in the real dark before, never not heard anything before.

A city child without a city wrapped around.

I spent my 10th summer in Disneyland without the rides or lines or people dressed in masks.

In Canfield, Ontario, in 1962 for me there were only Grandma, Grandpa, aunts and uncles, cousins, cows, pigs and chickens.

From the summer of ’62 to the summer of ’66, once school ended my parents would drive me up to the family farm and drop me off, most of the new clothes I wore back to school were made in Canada, bought on Main Street, Dunnville.

It wasn’t until much later in life as an adult going through my parent’s estate did I learn of the family secret, as I spent afternoons waiting at the end of a long gravel driveway for my parents to come back for me, mother and dad and my younger sisters were going on vacations to beaches and amusement parks, without me.

At 17 I left home for good, never went back, was told once by an aunt, maybe an uncle, “It happens some you know, your mom, your dad, never bonded with ya much…”

Still hurts some, mainly at night, mainly on long drives, but then I remember holding my Grandma’s hand under a bowl of stars, remember sitting on Uncle Jim’s or Uncle Leo’s lap and driving the tractor mowing hay, remember the cows, the pigs, the chickens, and it’s okay.

A city child without the city wrapped around.

Welcome to my childhood neighborhood.

Thought you’d like to know

“…just a city boy looking for a home..”

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” ~Andre Gide