Here we are in the thick of wintertime. I was wondering if it would be with us this year. Thankfully it is, at least in my opinion. We are a family of skiers. Alpine skiers. Nothing beats it. I put it on a very high pedestal alongside fly fishing and a good-value-for-the-money bourbon. Like maybe $20 for a 750ml bottle.
Even though I have so much winter to look forward to, with skiing, coaching the Blackhawk Alpine Racing Team with my friend Brian, and some epic games of Cribbage and Euchre to get through the cold, dark evenings, I can’t help but keep my eye on March 2nd, the early season trout opener. I’m not sure if any of you feel this way. Lovers of winter with an eye toward that first spring creek trout of the season.
But since it wasn’t that long ago, here are a few pictures of Christmas with my family. Enjoy Winter, and look ahead to Spring!
Christmas with the Andersons
Rebecca and Wes
It’s fun to feel this way about Christmas
Don’t be mistaken. These two are hell on wheels.
Origami Yoda Vs. Darth Paper, by Bode Anderson-Brown
The opener is this Saturday. I plan to stay local for much of the season. I’ll take a few trips further afield, but I’m scheming to get intimately familiar with water that is within thirty minutes of home and work. An hour here and an hour there will make up the bulk of my fishing time this season.
My friend Stephen Rose on local water, Driftless, Wisconsin
Weekend trips this year are going to involve my three young sons and a few good campsites, and there will likely be more variety to my weekend Driftless Area stream time. Whatever it takes to keep it fun for my kids, that’s where I’m trying to aim. I want them to want to join me in trout country. I’m building relationships with them that I hope will grow into their love of the same places I love. If that takes campfires and marshmallows, lunches at the local burger joint, and a few hands of UNO at the campsite in the afternoon, I’m game.
Shep at Parfrey's Glen, 2009
I was recently called “the best parent when it comes to making things fun”. It was a compliment, but it was a statement made to temper criticism that followed. The criticism was that I acquiesce to my children when decisions about “what to do” have to be made. It’s not as if I let my children choose to do whatever they want to do whenever they want to do it. I’m not a wet noodle that bends to their every demand. But I’ll admit, I fall into the role of joining them as boys in the activities we share. I want my kids to like me, to want to invite me along when I’m an old man.
Childhood is not only about “Protestant-Work-Ethic” character building via depravity and rigid time management. It is just as important, perhaps more important, for children to understand what they have to fall back on when they need some reprieve from the trying times that come from all directions in a person’s life.
Let's dig a hole in the backyard! (Madison, WI)
When I think back to my boyhood I don’t remember with fondness those things that adults had me do to “prepare me” for the real world. I remember spending time with my mom, dad, and sister, or my neighborhood buddies, doing things out in nature or around the neighborhood, exploring unfamiliar places, revisiting familiar ones. I remember my dad waking up on Saturday morning just in time to watch Looney Tunes with me and my sister, and I thought it was so cool that he took an interest in something I really liked! And I also remember the excitement of being invited to partake in activities that my parents liked too.
My dad, The Man. (Cedarburg, WI, 2011)
My dad had plenty of “advice” for me that I didn’t appreciate and still don’t take any stock in. However, he’s been more than open to trying things I’ve discovered on my own so that he can share experiences with me. That’s the approach I’m trying to take with my sons. Show them things I like. Try things that they like. Meet in the middle. Skip out on responsibilities once in a while for the sake of freedom and fun, to feel like you’ve got some say in your life. Not all the time, but rules can and should be bent once in a while. Like that time in 8th grade my parents took my sister and me out of school for a whole week to go skiing in Montana. There’s one I’ll never forget.
Yesterday Stephen Rose and I did some exploring with our kids and my dog. We went to eastern Iowa county to take a look at Smith-Conley Creek. We checked out a parcel of land Stephen was curious about. And then we went to Donald County Park, a place neither of us had ever visited, even though we’ve each lived in Dane County for over a decade.
Donald County Park is the piece of land that spawns Mt Vernon Creek, at the confluence of Frye’s Feeder and Deer Creek. There are some great hiking trails, beautiful views, and of course, trout.
We had a great time exploring and relaxing in the February sun, sheltered from the wind behind a rise in the Driftless. It’s a neat place to check out, and I’ll surely be back with my fly rod when the trout season is in swing.
Shep and Joe at Donald County Park, Dane County, Wisconsin
Joe and Stephen relaxing in a Hennessy hammock, Donald Park, Dane County, Wisconsin
Shep, Joe, Bode, and Stephen, Donald County Park, Dane County, Wisconsin
Frye's Feeder runs through Donald County Park, Dane County, Wisconsin
Maybea-Dog enjoying her free time, Donald County Park, Dane County, Wisconsin