Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Better 4th

Yay and whew. This weekend was wonderful and tiring.

Friday afternoon, we went to my Mom's and Dan's for their second annual July 4 Bash. Last year, we went through the motions without Dori as she fought leukemia at VUMC. This year, she was right there with us, competing in the egg toss with Kathryn and cheering on Kathryn and Will in other games.

Like everything my mother does, the party was no holds barred ... great food, games and fireworks for the kids, and a beverage or two for the older set. I believe 50+ adults and children were in attendance. And what a great group of kids. It's nice to see so many together having fun and well behaved for the duration.

Here are some photos of the festivities, including friend and marathoner Ann DeNunzio with Dori, Will as the younger Uncle Sam, "GranDan" as a more traditional-looking Uncle Sam explaining a game to the kids, Kathryn and friend Suzanne winning the three-legged race, and Kathryn with her Mom. Kathryn said this July 4 was the most special she's experienced.

Kathryn and I spent a lot of time together the following two days. Yesterday, we teamed on yardwork for the better part of three hours. The time with her was wonderful, but whoever said yardwork is "therapeutic" is nuts. I'll buy time-consuming. During the mild evening, we sat in the back driveway with Pepper, listened to mellow Dire Straits tunes and watched a dragonfly catch flies over our heads. Our house sits under a cathedral of tall trees, which made the whole night feel like church, except with a beer in hand.

This morning, Kathryn joined me for my first real fishing trip in two years. As we drove east to the Caney Fork River, Kathryn spotted a cooler in the back. Our young conservationist said, "We're not killing the fish, Dad." I said Nana and Aunt Anne really like trout, and it was OK if we took a few. She wasn't buying it, I gave in, and all remained well in the Wild Kingdom.

Reports from friends who had made the one-hour trip to the Caney said the trout fishing was excellent. Those reports were spot on. I found some magic at Happy Hollow with a green and orange imitation crawdad, landing a beautiful 16-inch healthy rainbow, then a 12-inch rainbow. A brown trout broke loose. K-Girl joined me occasionally in the river, but mostly made paintbrushes with bamboo and monkey grass. What an imagination ... the brushes are impeccable and look functional.

Around noon, we headed downstream to the Gordonsville Bridge. To get to the best spot, you have to descend a steep, slippery 30-foot bank that requires using a rope. My "little girl," who was afraid of kindergarten, people and most things only a few years ago, said, "Dad, that looks easy." She went down with ease.

A 20-inch rainbow broke my line after a great fight. I caught a 15-inch rainbow that broke free as I reached to unhook him. The long day - four hours in the water - was fantastic. Kathryn never said she was bored. She adores the outdoors like most of my family. She napped serenely on the way home, a sight I won't soon forget.

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