Moving is a chore. It’s uncanny how much “stuff” one can collect in such a short period of time. Boxes and boxes of clothes, boots, household items, and whatever else you can possibly imagine, seem to slowly or not so slowly, fester into a volcanic cache ready to explode the minute your home sells. I am still perplexed how I allowed this to happen. Whether it’s furniture, kitchenware, duck calls, or bedspreads, it comes out the same way it came in…one box at a time.
I just shook my head as I found things that I had completely forgotten about. Old caps and gloves from my baseball days were stowed in a sealed box. There were trophies from my quarter horse days when Segundo beat the field in poles, barrels, and cutting. Boxes and boxes of antlers, shotshells, and knives were discovered in the same places I placed them when I moved in. Do I really need every turkey beard, spur, and empty hull that brings back some vivid memory of a day in the swamp? Evidently, I thought I did. I found the more I packed, the less reluctant I was to hold onto these “keepsakes.” When I first started loading, I would set things aside to go to storage. As the pace of the moving process reached the height of its fury, I seemed to cast aside, many items that earlier in the process I would have latched on to like it was glue. At times, I almost considered therapy to seek diagnosis on the possibility I was a chronic “hoarder.” Does any of this sound familiar? Have you been here? Relief had to be in sight.
It wasn’t until I found the reservoir of old photographs that I was finally able to somewhat come to grips with turning loose of what held me captive for many years. I could still hold on to the memories, with not near the clutter, by saving those old kodak prints that took me back to places I hadn’t seen in years. I’ll share with you a few of these “in print” treasures.
Some of my first fishing excursions took place on the borrow pits, also known as bar pits, along the levee of the Mississippi River near Delta, La. Dad was a member of Riverside Hunting Club and not only was the deer hunting excellent, but the fishing was world class. As a young boy, I had never caught a catfish. I yearned to catch my own channel cat. I dreamed of those blues and appaloosa’s, but for some reason I had my sights set on catching my first channel cat. I still remember my “cork” going under and when I set the hook on my old cane pole, I soon realized it wasn’t the usual bluegill that always seemed to grab my cricket. No, this time, my first channel cat came to the bank. Not only can I still recall every detail of the experience, I found the picture of me holding my prize in one of the boxes that was leaving the closet. It’s funny now that I wouldn’t let my dad clean this fish. I wrapped it up in aluminum foil and put it in our freezer at home. From time to time, I would take it out, un-wrap the foil, and admire my prize. This ended one day when I left it out on the counter and our two cats, Red and Stripey, found my fish and rendered it into a meal leaving nothing but the skeleton. Oh well, I still have my photo.
As I rummaged through other photographs, I found the one of my first buck. The little Texas 10 pointer is still in my collection of memories, but I hadn’t seen the picture with my sister and my cousin joining in the fun of helping me hold him. It’s been more than 50 years since that November day, but the color on the actual photograph is still as bright and clear as the day the picture was taken. This one went to the box I’ll hang on to.
A little more pillaging brought to light an old picture of my first limit of ducks. I was in high school and one of the rare snowstorms brought with it a bounty of waterfowl that settled on local farm ponds near where we lived. Granted, I didn’t place decoys and call my limit to my scatter gun, but I didn’t care. I would drive from pond to pond and slip to the edge to see what the small bodies may hold in the form of a duck or two. Several stops later, I brought my bounty home for the camera. Two prized mallards, a drake, and a hen, along with a gadwall and a ring-necked, were carefully placed in the snow for the “professional” photograph to be taken. I still can’t believe my hair was that long in high school. The old camo jumpsuit I wore on that day is no longer in the closet, but I can still remember slipping it on over my boots and jeans ready to brave the elements. This photo went with me also.
Many other pictures were discovered as well. John Hartley’s first Canada Goose was almost as big as he was at the time. You can tell by the grimace on his face, he struggled to lift the large honker for the moment to be captured. There was the photo of the stringer of bass my dad and I caught with professional bass fisherman, Tommy Martin. Dad booked a trip for me at Toledo Bend Reservoir, and of course Pop enjoyed the trip as much as I did. I can’t describe how good the fishing was on this iconic lake. I thought I was something else when dad took the photo of just me and Mr. Martin with our daily limit of 45 bass. That’s been a minute ago.
Others included opening day dove hunts, old camp photos with some people I don’t even know, muddy jeeps, and more, lots more. I have boxes and boxes with hundreds of old pictures packed away. I am making a pledge to myself to go through each, and every one of them, and compile them in some sort of way to minimize the “hoarding” effect. I have a hard time getting to the place of just throwing them away and losing these wonderful pieces of memorabilia that offered the luxury of so many wonderful experiences.
Today, we collect our photographs and store them with extra data in an album on our cell phones. There are very few actual albums on the shelves of our dens and at our camp houses to thumb through and share with others. It’s almost tragic not to have the actual pictures to hold and look at. Then again, the cell phone sure eliminates hours and hours of packing and loading. Such a dilemma to decide what to keep and throw away. I’ll take the time this winter to go through each photograph and decide what to do, with the solemn, self-made promise not to just relocate to another closet.
Do you suffer from this disorder of holding onto everything? Maybe this will inspire you to start the process now to clean out and not be on some rushed timeline as I am. Oh well, I’ll get it done. Now, if I can just figure out what to do with a lifetime’s worth of antlers and feathers. All in good time.
Until next time, enjoy our woods and waters and remember, let’s leave it better than we found it.