Seagull Outfitters Paddler’s Tales
By: Terry S.
Anticipation of spring, it’s been a long winter for sure here in the Ozark mountains of Arkansas. Actually for me the winter begins to get long by the middle of December. The last fishing and camping trip on the Buffalo National River for our group is usually around the first week of November when the leaves are changing colors. It’s a perfect time of the year for floating, but there’s a bit of unspoken sadness in everyone’s heart when we pull our canoes onto the last gravel bar to load up our gear one last time and go home.
Now it is Springtime, and the emptiness of a gray winter is replaced with anticipation of the new season. Memories of the great ice storm in January have faded a bit, with only a few hanging tree limbs as a reminder of an incredibly destructive event. The yard is coming to life through every color imaginable in my wife’s flower beds and the Grossbeaks and Orioles are making their annual trek back north, occasionally stopping for a quick snack at our bird feeders. Yup, spring has finally arrived.
I decided to do a little spring cleaning in my garage this past weekend. Sunday afternoon it was raining outside so it was a perfect time to “re-organize”. It wasn’t long before I found myself distracted and off track. I had not only decided to clean up a bit, but before I knew it, I had everything pulled away from the walls and was scooting and moving all of my shelving and counters around to a different location. After hearing all the noise for as long as she could stand it, my wife opened the door into the garage and just stared at my creation in the middle of the floor with wide eyes. She closed the door behind her without saying a word but she said volumes to me with her expression.
I decided to move all of our camping gear to a different location in the garage, away from the garage door and hopefully avoiding as much dust as possible, at least that was my reasoning for moving it. Actually, I think I just wanted to touch all of my camping and fishing gear because it makes me feel good. Several small things had just been laid on the shelves without being properly organized over the past few months and they needed a proper home. The new jig hooks I had bought at Bass Pro in Destin, Florida a few weeks ago needed to be placed in my tackle box. A few new camp cooking implements were just sitting on the lid of the Rubbermaid box that contains our small camping gear. Before I knew it, I was re-living past float trips locally and into Quetico every time I picked up a piece of gear.
It’s impossible to explain the rush you get when you open your tackle box after a long winter and get a whiff of the smells that come from it. I’m sure my wife wouldn’t like it, but if you could capture that subtle fragrance in a bottle, I would use it every day. Maybe it would just simply be called “Fishing”.
After thinking about all the big ones that got away last year, I next opened the Rubbermaid box and was greeted by the smells of neoprene, bungee cords, nylon bags and tarps, all of which melted together in my nose and became intoxicating. Even though I knew every little odd and end that was in the box, I rifled through it just to become re-acquainted.
I spent the next couple of hours gently placing my tents, seat cushions, life vests, rain gear, cook stoves, fuel bottles and misc. camping gear onto nice and clean shelves. After a little more arranging, I stepped back to look at my creation. Perfect! Even though I realized that I had arranged everything almost in the exact position as they had been on the other shelving, I was satisfied and had a peaceful feeling of contentment.
I’ll never be able to explain to anyone the feeling I get when spring is around the corner and my mind turns to Quetico and the Gunflint Trail. The act of planning the perfect trip into the middle of nowhere is indescribable. Maybe there are a lot of people who don’t understand, but taking 10 days out of your life to enjoy one of the most incredible places in North America is an exhilaration you can only get with the experience. Just like hearing a certain song on the radio often slams you back into your disco years, all the smells of my camping gear slammed my memories back into the wonderful Boundary Water and Quetico canoe trips of the past and caused me to look forward to trips still to come.
My camping gear is now cleaned, organized and ready for new adventures this year, however everything else in my garage is still in the middle of the floor. Did I spend too much time caressing my camping gear and lovingly storing it? Nah, and I’m sure I’ll get around to the rest of the garage someday.