I supposed it couldn’t have been avoided, but I learned the hard way.
My maternal Grandfather, Grant F., was without a doubt an outdoorsman. He hunted, fished, walked the hardwood covered hills identifying flora and fauna and knew what to eat and not eat from the Northeast Iowa woodlands.
And much like me, he was self-taught. He loved to read and travel and learn everything he could about Nature. For many of his years it was necessity; to supplement the food budget. But I believe it became a passion for him. He was proud of his knowledge and experience, and frequently reached for one of the books on the stand near his comfy chair to show us what he had most recently been reading about.
I recall listening in on some of the lively conversations about his experiences. He was a master at finding morel mushrooms. He had a knack for spotting the “perfect” branch to make a cane. Not only did he reap a harvest of ginseng every year, but he was mindful to leave some plants to ensure another harvest next year.
Oh, how I admired his travels and experiences, but failed to have conversations of my own with him about them. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized, that special connection that he had created with Nature was rising up in me. He had passed by that time, but I longed to have him around to ask questions and share my own discoveries.
So I will have to be content to carry his spirit with me when I walk the woods, and perhaps somewhere inbetween the birdsongs and rustling leaves, he is whispering guidance and encouragement to me.