Monday, November 3, 2014

The Forests my Dad Taught Me to Appreciate.

My job takes me to very interesting and far-away places, mostly among the green lush of a national forest. This aspect of my job is enticing on many levels and appeals to many sides of myself. First off, it meets all the criteria of what i want out of a job/career: working outside, working with my hands, it's different everyday, and I feel like i'm making a difference in the world. Part of these desires to do such work comes from my physique/natural ability to thrive in these environments. That being said, I owe a great deal of my drive to do this interesting and important work to my father. As long as I can remember, he was always a role model for outdoorsy activities. Whether it was hunting, fishing, camping, shooting, hiking, or riding four-wheelers, my dad was into it and wanted his kids to enjoy it just as much. Because I've been involved with the outdoors and the activities it offers since I was born, it seem like being outdoors is somehow ingrained in my DNA. I have my father to thank for the immense love I have for the outdoors and carry his love with me every time I don my work clothes and venture out into the harsh work-environment.

Working the fire to my will. Saving trees by burning them.
Because I have such a deep connection with my dad and the outdoors I work in, he is never far from my thoughts. I had the opportunity to spend a two-week long fire tour in an area adjacent to where my dad lived for 2 years. While on the King Fire in Northern California, we were a mere 50 miles or so from Sacramento. After my parents got divorced, my dad ventured out there looking for work, and was able to keep it for about two years before the distance became too much of a burden for him. My siblings and I would travel out there from time to time to see him, and he was coming home as often as he could to make his time away from us more bearable. But being in that area was a nice walk down memory lane. Especially the day we drove through the town of Tahoe, where my dad had taken my siblings and I more than once while passing through to get to and from Reno where we would fly to. You take that and the fact that on that tour, I worked closely with a man who resembled my late father more than I care to think too much about, it was an interesting couple of weeks.
Even just being up and around Heber, where he grew up and we spent nearly all of our time recreating, reminds me of his outdoorsy spirit and how it still resonates in my life.

Most pictures of my dad are painted in this fashion. Fish in hand, with big smile. Perfect.
I have a lot of good memories of my dad while we're out, camping, hunting or fishing, and they're memories i'll continue to cherish the rest of my life. Like when we would go out to the fishing tournament near the end of June (for 5 years or so) and it would just be him and I in a small boat together, for 12 hours a day. If we weren't busy slaying fish or rocking out to our similar taste in music, we always had something to talk about. Whether it was movies, TV, books, my interests or his, my school, his work, or just reminiscing about that time something funny happens. I love those conversations. It's during talks like that I developed a grand majority of my sense of humor I know and love today. I know I missed out on a lot of those conversations I grow into my adult life, and that's something i'll never get over. But when I'm outside, for hours and days at a time, I can get close to those moments with my Dad.

This proud brother of mine, boasting about his fresh catch.
There's a certain type of clarity and calm that comes with dropping off the map for up to two weeks at a time, not available to be reached by anyone aside from a face-to-face conversation. It allows for deep reflection, perspective, and clarity. It allows me to get a little dose of reality in my everyday life and reaffirm all the things that are REALLY important in my life. Being able to connect with the spirits of nature allow me to be closer to those I've lost, in some way. That's one of the major perks of my job: while others are bustling to and from their cubicles in their compact cars, stuck in traffic, my commute while on fires usually consists of driving on a dirt road. Being in these remote areas of the country, away from the drama and stressors of living in a major(?) city (Provo) allows for a greater appreciation of self and the world around you. My dad taught me a lot about the natural wonder and greatness of the earth, and it's something I'm thankful for everyday.

That deep of a connection is something that I'll carry with me forever.
I'm obviously one the only one my father's passion had an effect on. We continue to carry the torch.

I love you, Dad.
I miss you.
I just wanted to say thanks for sparking up that sense of wonder about the outdoors you love so much.

P.S. In looking for pictures of my dad to go along with this post, I am shocked and distraught at how FEW pictures I have of my dad and myself doing the things we loved most. I will fix this, and scan/copy every picture I can get my hands on, so that I may paint the mosaic of his life.