I am at the company store explaining to a family about our backpacking trips for teenagers. Their young daughter looks up for an acknowledging sign; this is the summer adventure she’s been looking for. The parents tell her with a smile that they will talk about it at dinner and dog ear the Expeditions page in our catalog. Opal pool is their next destination, a family giving dad his day in the woods.
Glancing down toward the street, I see another family approaching. The little boy is running as fast as he can, and his younger sister is right behind him. The couple behind the kids is taking their time, enjoying the sun and clear skies, and the blue lupines blooming between the cabins. The little boy runs faster when he sees me and calls out “Poppa Pete, Poppa Pete!” It’s my four year old grandson Silas and my heart fills with joy as I sweep him and his sister Sofie up into my arms. I am covered in sweet kisses and neck breaking hugs. Sofie rubs her blond hair into my ear. My son John and his sweetie Annie come up and wrap their arms around the three of us and we are all whole. Lucky me. Happy Father’s Day is indeed that.
This is the second year that my grandkids have come to Jawbone. I remember when my son was only ten, when we first started to explore the Opal Creek old growth forest so many years ago. We camped in tents and met the caretakers of Jawbone. They told us why it was important to protect and save Opal Creek’s watershed. We found old mines, hidden trails and deep green pools. The water so clear that the fish’s shadows could be seen on the pool’s rocky bottom. Year after year we made the trips, father and son sometimes, father and family at others. My son and I found a place of beauty, of adventure, of promise. But would his children find this, discover this too? Would it all be here for them too? A dream to hope for, to have another generation to share this incredible place. Would one day my grandchildren see this place as I did, as their father did, as my son did? Would all this treasure still be here to share? Is there, maybe, genetic memory that they will love it as passionately as I?
Silas wants to go down to the creek, throw rocks and take off his shoes. The water is still cold, but he’s good with it. Little Sofie is tired from the three mile hike in and wants to nap in the shade. The sound of the creek quickly lulls her to sleep. Silas moves comfortably up and down the bank, looking for shiny rocks. His pockets soon bulge with treasures and all the adults smile at his innocence. My son lies back and closes his eyes, the sun warm, cares left far behind. These are the moments in time that I had hoped for, framed for. I felt the connection from father to child. From me to him, to his. Another dream forms. That the line continues. That my daughter will soon bring her family here too. And her two boys will be shown around by their slightly older cousin who knows just the place to wade and find “gold.”
“The dreams of generations are built upon the shoulders of others,” Katie reminds me. Our successes came at a price worth paying. Sometimes it’s the time spent in volunteering, sometimes it’s the generosity of financial support. It is in others sharing and giving that dreams come true. I hope that you, gentle reader, can share in this special place in this special way. The dream is still intact.
And I hope you had a happy Fathers Day. I know I did.