The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

A Fishing Trip With Mother

By W. Bruce Wright © 1989

Issue: January, 1989

About 60 years ago, my father and I planned a fishing trip. We would meet at Valier, a small town on Mahoning Creek. This stream is on the western slope of the Allegheny Mountains, down stream a few miles from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, the place made well known for the Groundhog and his shadow. I would drive from the east and Dad from the west.

My father later told me about Mother's decision to go on the trip with us. As Dad was loading the camping and fishing gear into the car, Mother asked if this would be a rough fishing trip. He replied that he didn't expect it to be very rough because he was taking tents and cots. He also explained that we would be fishing so we would not be around to entertain her. She replied that she would not object to that, she would take some reading and sewing. Dad told her to be ready in 30 minutes because if they were late in leaving that they would be late in meeting me that I would be worried about them having an auto accident. No matter where or when we might be going some place, Mother was always late but this time she was ready in the allocated time.

Our meeting in Valier was just about as planned but I was surely surprised to see Mother. By the time we located a meadow by the creek, received permission to camp, fixed some supper and set up the tent, it was just about dark. As we were setting up camp the sun was setting, causing the mountains around us to turn to beautiful shades of blue and purple. Clouds building up in the west added to the beauty but they also indicated rain. We had not much more than set up the cots, a double and a single, when the rain started. Dad very strongly cautioned Mother not to touch the tent because touching the underside of a wet canvas tent will cause it to leak at that place.

When Mother was a child, she developed a fear of floods and this fear seemed to increase as she got older. As a boy, I recall that during many heavy rains, she would ask Dad if there was any danger of our house being flooded. This rain, in a strange place and on the bottom land of the creek caused her much concern. Her fear was so great that she decided to go to bed with her clothes on so that if we had high water, she could get away more quickly.

To keep the rain from blowing into the tent we closed the flaps and it soon became quite warm. Trying to sleep with her clothes on resulted in Mother being too warm. First she turned down the blanket, next, off came a rather heavy knit blouse. By this time it was not raining quite so hard and she said, "I believe that it will be safe for me to take off my shoes." In her effort to get comfortable, she was just like a dog trying to make a bed in leaves. Her fidgeting was so noticeable that it kept me from going to sleep. I could hear their muffled talking but I couldn't quite understand what was being said. Finally, it became quiet and we had a good sleep.

The heavy rain did not last very long and the total rain was not excessive. The morning was bright and clear and the signs of rain had just about disappeared. With a nice sparkling fire, a pot of hot coffee, a platter of bacon and eggs in hand, the bright morning sun adding brilliance to the beautiful fall colors, we were at peace with the world. Knowing that we were anxious to get fishing, as soon as we had finished eating, Mother said that she would clean up the morning dishes.

As we were about to leave with our fishing gear, I turned to Mother and asked, "What under the tent caused you so much and so long a discomfort before you went to sleep?" To which she replied, "Young man, you have never tried to take off a tight fitting two–way–stretch girdle in the dark without touching the tent, have you?"

P.S. Later, a local fisherman told us, "You should have been here last week!"