"Now just what, Matt", I said in my most stern and unflinching voice, " do you intend to do about the situation."
My 10 year old son stood, in billowy adult-sized Seal-Dry waders that seemed now to expose only a small neck and head, tears streaming down his face and sobbing, on the gravel bar in the Deschutes. I could see his fine but forgetful mind spinning through the choices, small in number and poor as they were. He was trapped , and I knew it, and the tears showed he was rapidly reaching that same conclusion. The question, and the tone in my voice removed one of his three options. Inside though, I felt about as tearful as he did. This was not going to be a fun day on the river.
The problem was that Matt's rod, Matt's new Orvis "Fine n' Far", 9'3" blank Christmas present, finished by Matt the week before, was leaning against a tree somewhere in our last camp about four
miles upriver. We had rapidly broken camp after breakfast to get moving early to secure our next and favorite campsite. After about 45 minutes of floating I pulled in to fish, and Matt had asked, "where's my rod?". When a thorough search of the boat yielded nothing, Matt thought it might be in the other boat,
which was out of sight downstream. Knowing it was either going to get a lot better, or a lot worse, I rowed hard trying to catch up, and finally did after another two miles. And thus two boats, four adults, and my older son, waited on a sterile and fishless bar, for Matt's decision.
Matt sobbed, wishing he could just melt into an immobile puddle of tears as sometimes was his habit previously in such a situation . But such a meltdown here would still be four miles from his rod. "I'm going to have to walk back and get the rod", he finally blurted, and sobbed harder now that his fate was sealed. I know he wanted to leave it, just write it off and wait for Santa's return trip, but I was not about to let that happen. Matt's forgetfullness, the result of a fine and uncluttered mind merrily dancing it's way through it's rosy future, needed a lesson. This would be part of the solution.
"O.K., now listen," I said, knowing I might as well reveal the worst all at once. "Get out of your waders and put on your socks and tennis shoes. Just follow the tracks back to the old camp, you can't get lost. Take a Pepsi or two, because it's going to be hot and dry. WE'LL BE CAMPED AT THE BOWER, YOU KNOW WHERE THAT IS, JUST BELOW THE LONG, DIAGONAL RIFFLE." I just added another four miles to his return, downstream walk.
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