Letter of the week, from Chuck
Currently unemployed due to a disability I have had time to "Work the Web." I found your web site and have enjoyed it for a few days now. I am impressed for it expresses very much my own feelings and philosophy as though you have read my mind. By using my computer and logging onto your site did you adjust your words or my mind to match the thinking almost perfectly? That might be another story for a Science Fiction writer. Inspired by stories from others that you have placed into your newsletter I would like to submit the following about a father reliving an experience through the eyes of his son. I have read almost all your newsletter archive and was inspired to tell of a long ago experience I had which follows:
I was in the Navy, lonely, and divorced, but I had the great fortune to be able to visit with my son whenever I pleased. He was in his high teens and we were finding it harder to communicate as he aged toward manhood. Despite this we had one hobby that bound us and bridged, though flimsy, the painful gap between us. We backpacked as often as possible for we lived in an area that had many state and national parks and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) sites within a days drive from his home. On this particular outing we started under a gray sky and a gray mood also hovered around my son for he had earlier showed reluctance to start this trip because he expected it to rain for the whole time on the trail. We arrived at the trail head late so we camped there as we had expected we would have to do. There was only one other car sitting at the trail head. We suspected that its occupants had already started into their hike earlier. Pleased with the fact that we would have the trail essentially to ourselves the next day because the others would be a distance ahead of us we bedded down just as the sky opened and dropped large raindrops onto our tent. With the patter of rain on our tent fly we slept fitfully.
In the morning we heaved our packs onto our backs with their 6 days of meals, extra water and the wet tent. In short order my son was a distance ahead with his strong legs and a body that was about twenty years younger. It was the usual routine for us on these trips. In his younger days I was able to keep up to his short strides but as he gained height, and an athletic grace that I never had, he would go ahead and wait at a turn in the trail or a particularly beautiful view for me to come huffing and puffing from behind. As the gap between us grew his insolence was demonstrated by how far ahead he would get and the breaks I needed to catch my breath would be shortened by the abrupt slinging of his pack and going on ahead.
For the lunch break my son had picked a resting place near a bubbling and very lively stream, no doubt enhanced by the rains the previous night. As we sat on the bank we bared our feet to dangle them in the cool water. We began the break in silence, my son was wanting to speak but words were difficult for him. After eating we lay on our packs for a short siesta. He spoke. He told me of his dreams, his fears and hopes. They echoed through my memory as they were the same as mine when I was his age. I remained silent. Thinking how could I be reassuring without sounding like a parent but as someone that has been there.
I slowly began about what being a man is about and what a gentleman is and how similar yet how unalike they can be and how to choose when and what to be in situations that he may encounter in life. The thoughts of honor and integrity that a man should use as a guide in these times of decision. As I rambled on in a low tone we became aware of sounds of laughter as light as the sound of the bubbling stream.
We remained silent as the human sounds approached. Sitting as we did, with our feet crossed and leaning against our packs and bushes around us we knew we were virtually invisible. At the downstream end we were both surprised to see two ladies in the nude and walking up the middle of the stream. The sunlight filtering through the trees, the sparkle in the water and the tan on their bodies made them look almost like forest nymphs. We watched as they approached but we were too enthralled to even breath. They had similar looks about the face and the bodies were of like proportions and shape. One was older. The other was most likely the daughter.
As they approached I thought it best to warn them of our presence so I coughed and made sounds of clearing my throat. They stopped and whispered to each other then continued toward us. My son then said, in a louder than necessary voice, that we should continue our hike. I shook my head yes as we slowly stood up and made stretching motions as though we were napping. They did not hesitate to continue their approach. They stood in the stream directly in front of us and smiled widely with the glow of enthusiasm demonstrated in the young of heart. They mentioned that they saw us as we had passed their camp of the night before. It turns out that they set their tent up in the rain and most all their clothes were wet. When we had passed by, them my son in his hurry took little notice, and in my own lumbering way, with my head down, I had also failed to notice.
We talked as they stood before us naked. I reveled in the beauty my eyes beheld. The mother had short blond hair with hints of red and brown while the daughter had more red/brown and wore hers to just past her shoulders, though at the moment it was tied up under a floppy hat. Their breast were much the same and swayed in a soft and gentle way with their movements. The curve of tanned, unblemished and very smooth/soft skin as it cascaded down passed their hips and on two long and sculptured legs with feet neatly tucked into very wet boots. The two had a presence projecting from them that we could not describe but caused us to feel honored by their being near. When my son held out his hand to help the younger one onto the stream bank she nearly fell into his arms on the moss and grass. I, in turn, helped the mother regain dry ground. I thought, as my son and I picked up our packs, that these wood nymphs would be gone from sight shortly as we recaptured the trail to continue our wanderings.
Our hearts were lightened by the encounter but it continued for they remained flittering in and out of our journey. We saw them as they passed our camp and when we passed them on the trail. A few times we ate lunch together. They were not always nude but they still projected an aura of magic and mystery, dignity yet child like playfulness and the innocence of not knowing their own beauty. The last day we, the four of us, traveled the last leg together in a silence. We knew our time was special and did not speak and in the end there was only to part at the trail head. On the rest of the hike my son and I had walked together and he shouldered some of my load from me. We had not enjoyed an outing like this in a few years and it had not rained but for that one time.
My son and I did not talk of this with anyone or even between ourselves for over three years. He mentioned it when he asked me if I thought he was growing into the kind of person we had talked of by the stream that day. My son (and I) had changed after that trip. He understood what I tried to explain about honor and integrity and the difference between a man and a gentleman from the very meeting of two wood nymphs. And I was given a reaffirmation of my convictions/life values. I cried for my son pleased me with his quality as a person.