Classroom of the great outdoors

I remember as a young kid lying in the tall grass that grew along the banks of the creek that flowed not far from my home

I remember as a young kid lying in the tall grass that grew along the banks of the creek that flowed not far from my home.

I used to lie there and watch clouds go by. While most people might have tried to see shapes in the clouds, I was more than content to simply watch the clouds drift on by.

I still spend time watching the clouds go by, but mostly I sit out in one of my Adirondack chairs in the front yard. Funny thing is, since I retired, I  once again feel like I don’t have a care in the world.

These days, however, there is a bit of a chill in the air. Autumn is upon us.

The ducks and geese have been heading south and everything in nature seems to have an urgency about it  – almost as if we are going to be in for a long, hard winter.

I wonder what the Farmer’s Almanac has to say. All I know is that each season seems to go by faster, while I seem to be getting slower and slower. The days of the week, like the seasons, fly by like ducks and geese on the wing.

When I was a kid, it seemed like I had all the time in the world. I was one of those kids who couldn’t wait for school to be over and for summer to begin.

The first day of summer holidays meant, well, for me it meant freedom to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I could go fishing in the morning and then again in the afternoon. If I felt like it, I could ride my bike like a crazy person right down Main Street – if I wanted to – and I didn’t have to give a rat’s behind as to where I was headed or when I had to be back. Just as long as I was back for supper.

On the other hand, it also meant that I could go for a walk over to old man Wilson’s place and watch him paint some part of his house. He would always give me some crab apples off his tree if I would stop watching him work and go away. Seemed like he was always painting, or scraping paint off and repainting some part of that old house. I don’t think that house ever did have a complete coat of paint, at least not all at the same time.

I knew that I could also always go over to my cousin Charlie’s house to see if he wanted to hike all the way up to First Falls, where we could cast our lines to little 10- and 12-inch trout hiding in the big pool just beneath the falls. I wonder how many hours of our lives my cousin Charlie and I squandered away fishing up at First Falls, or any one of a dozen other good fishing spots that we knew of back then. We didn’t realize it at the time, but we were doing more than just fishing. We were cultivating a lifelong appreciation for being in the great outdoors. We were learning about nature, in the only kind of classroom I ever truly enjoyed.

I know I learned a fair amount about insects – at least which insects worked best for catching fish.

Many a year has passed since those lazy summer days of my youth. Many a cloud has gone by, so to speak, and just as spring and summer have come and gone for this year, so too have the spring and summers of my life.

Autumn is indeed upon us – just as the autumn of my life now appears before me.

The thing is, autumn has always been my favourite season. I like all the colours and the cool, fresh crispness in the air. There are still plenty of good insect hatches and fishing is usually at its very best.