Never leave home without it

No tail .. she still has feet
As you can see, she loves the water

My buddy over at Blue Ridge Blog instilled in me a lesson I thought I had learned. I hadn’t. Apparently neither has she. It’s five simple words – Always Bring Your Camera. Always.

Today’s refresher course in Photography 101 transpired at one of my favorite places – Valle Crucis Park. The preteen wanted to go fishing, and I’ve been jonsing to experiment with a fly fishing pole my dad recently gave me. The wife and Gabrielle came along as well.

We’d been at the park about 20 minutes before the preteen’s corn-on-a-hook snared a score. She pulled from the depths of a small, stank pond a seven-inch catfish. As proud as she was of showing off her fishing acumen, she was just as frenzied to get the fish off her line and back to Nemo, Marlin and Coral.

Just one problem – we didn’t bring any gloves. Why is that an issue, you ask? Because I can not STAND to touch a flapping filet of slick, slimy, I-wish-it-were-broiled-not-oiled fishness.

Consider it my kryptonite, draining me of my manhood. I don’t care. I was never meant to be an outdoors man, much to my father’s dismay. If it lives near a tree, he’s either killed it, skinned it, hunted it or snared it. Oh the stories I could share of his wanting so bad to be Earl to my being Tiger, only in camouflage. None end happily (for him).

Back to the present. The preteen is holding her pole out with its treasure dangling in midwair screaming ” it’s dying, Rob, it’s dying. Get it off! Get it off!” And I’m fussing back in my least-manly tone – “You know I can stand to touch a fish. And that’s a catfish. They have whips by their jaw which can sting you. I ain’t gettin near that!”

Geez I’m such a wuss.

I finally snap the line and toss the catfish back to the dark depths of its 10-by-8 feet of wetness. And yes, it still had a hook in its mouth. Sue me.

To avoid another fish fight I headed back to our Ford Expedition (16.3 miles to the gallon, thank you very much. Man Law!) to nab a towel or some other glove-like cloth. On the way back I notice who I think is Marie walking with her man. I wasn’t sure if it was Marie because this person carried no camera. Heaven forbid! Marie without a camera is akin to Jordan sans a swoosh or Whoopi without dreads. It’s just not normal.

Yet indeed it is Marie and her delightful husband, who once thought so highly of an editorial I’d written that he bought me a fifth of Jack Daniels. (Drink that Maureen Dowd! Man Law!) As we walked back to the site of my metrosexualness I relayed what had transpired. They were laughing at my folly when hark, what in yonder bush did break? A deer, a sweet young deer, fleeing away from us toward the Watauga River ahead.

Marie cursed herself. HOW could she forget her camera! But she appeared to quickly shrug it off. Ya snap some and ya lose some. Such is the life of the lens.

Soon I was back with the budding Marty Stone and I bid them farewell. Time to again try to catch something I refuse to handle.

Several minutes later we caught sight of the sweet fawn again. It was on the opposite bank of the Watauga River near us. The wife actually ventured toward it to – well, I don’t know what exactly, wrestle? – but it just stood there and stared. We eventually let it be, primarily because I was fascinated by Gabrielle’s fascination with the water. The wife let her wade in and suddenly she was overcome by a latent desire to be a mermaid. She splashed and jumped and, believe it or not, attempted to snorkel – sans snorkel – in the river. Fully clothed. With shoes on. That’s my girl.

This is when I began mentally berating myself for leaving my lens at home. Here was my small pride and joy in love with life in a scene straight from “O’ Brother Where Art Thou.” (You know the one – Go to sleep little babe … your momma’s gone away and your daddy’s gonna stay .. didn’t leave nobody but the baaaaaaa-by.) And I had only brain cells to capture it.

So as the wee one splashed, the preteen fished, I cussed and momma mused, we all kept a casual eye on the fawn. Eventually Marie made another trip by and I pointed out to her the missed photo opportunity. By this time I could see it had been nagging at her. When earlier I’d guessed she’d gone “oh well” I could see now she was thinking “oh hell.” But still, she waved it away and continued her walk.

Several minutes later I was halfway across the river seeking to retrieve the preteen’s lost bobber (gimme that back you stupid rocks. Man Law!) when Marie came running up.

“Rob,” she said. “Do me a favor.”


“Don’t scare that deer away. I’m going for my camera. I’ll be right back.”

“Um .. okay.” Suffice it to say that in a blog post Marie captures almost to the word my thought process at the time.

For the next ten minutes we enjoyed our time at the river. The wife took Gabby in up to her chin and it still wasn’t deep enough. On more than one occasion she leaped forward spread eagle to hug the water. The wife would jerk her to the surface and she’d blow water from her mouth and smile. “Yeah!” she was thinking. “This is living!”

We headed back to the gas guzzler (two-and-a-half tons of V-8 fury. Man Law!). As we packed up Marie and her hubby sped in. Marie jumped out and, spying a naked Gabby wrapped in swaddling towel, lying in my arms, she snapped one quick photo and sped off to nab Prince Bambi.

A few hours later I saw that she did indeed nab a photo. Meanwhile, I have to satisfy myself with the mental polaroids of Gabby in mermaid-mode. I’ll be ready next time.


3 thoughts on “Never leave home without it

  1. …and I’m such a freakin wizard that the photo I took of your beautiful mermaid was completely overexposed. While in the car I had already set the camera for shooting a ‘deer in the woods’ not a ‘cute naked Gabby in the full sun.’
    I’d forgotten about the Jack Daniels. I’ll have to remind husband.

  2. I understand the non-outdoorsman persona. My husband is much the same. His idea of outdoors time is playing on his Deere. I can’t imagine him even going fishing. I think in all the time I’ve known him, I’ve seen him with a pole in his hands just one time, on a cub scout trip. Atleast you enjoy it. It sounds like you’re alot of fun for your girls.

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