International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: US Backyard
hadnt been here in forever. The biting wind made my eyes water
as I watched my breath drift away and disappear into the morning
air. Sniffling to fight off a runny nose, a familiar feeling came
over me while I listened to dead leaves dance atop the asphalt.
It was definitely November in Minnesota.
Suddenly, I recognized
something else. Slowly approaching me from the other side of the empty
lot was that same old Chevy Cavalier, same old tree-shaped freshener
dangling from the rearview and the same old blues eyes piercing through
the windshield. The white auto rolled past me and parked next to my
black Ford Ranger.
"Well, if it isnt my son
and his better looking dad!"
the graying man exclaimed while getting out of the car, grinning behind
his wild beard.
"Hey Pop!" I replied, sporting a smile larger than his.
"Its been a while since weve been here," he said.
"Yeah, but its good to be back. Ive always liked this
After dodging a few of his jabs (my dad likes pretending to box), I
followed my father, and we gradually descended the sloped entrance into
Bloomingtons Bass Ponds.
didnt take long before I could see not much had changed. Ducks
still lazily floated on the calm waters, the dam beavers continued
to leave a path of destruction (evident by countless fallen or half-eaten
trunks, which were on the verge of collapsing), and the surrounding
branches donned striking yellow, green, and auburn hues like they
always had during this season.
the scenery, I took a walk down memory lane, too. I reflected upon yesteryear
and envisioned a much younger version of myself. I saw me stepping on
the same gravelly trails, standing no taller than my dads bellybutton,
and frequently stopping with him to observe various birds fly overhead,
turtles sunbathe on logs, as well as the occasional deer that crossed
our path. I also chuckled when I thought about my pops keen eye.
We would spend hours upon hours scanning the wilderness due to his genuine
appreciation of nature. He never rushed because he didnt want
to miss somethinga trait Ive always admired.
Returning to the present, I noticed that my father hadnt lost
his sixth sense. He often spun around to rustles I couldnt hear
and would frequently squint deep into the woods. I still found myself
pausing whenever he did, looking and listening intently to the things
he pointed out. More often than not, he would show me an animal staring
back at us with its beady eyes or a critter I almost stepped on. But
I didnt come to the Bass Ponds just to study the outdoors.
from spotting wildlife, Jay Nelson has guided me in other ways. Hes
always listened, provided me with invaluable advice, and has usually
steered me in the right direction. On this day, he was giving his seemingly
lost, unemployed son a much-needed confidence boost.
"Ease up on yourself. Youve got a lot to be proud of. I know
Im proud of you," he said while slapping me on the back.
"Something good will happen if you just hang in there."
We kept walking and talking, exploring all of the woodland trails. And
after hearing my pops reassurances throughout the morning, I could
somehow see the forest instead of the trees.
was midday when we began the hike back to our vehicles. I recalled
how I used to lag way behind my towering dad because the uphill
climb was quite a struggle for me when I was little. I then shook
my head in disbelief when I realized how much time had flown. Now,
we were pretty much the same size, and I walked alongside him as
we exited the Bass Ponds, stride for stride.
I also realized that, although we stood shoulder to shoulder, I
still looked up to my father. And I always will.
Tyrel Nelson August 2009
at the Bullring
outnumbered, wounded bulls entered the rowdy arena to be stabbed to
death by costumed men.
Hike in Girón
to the Tica, there was no reason to visit Girón. It was ugly,
boring, and a waste of time. And on every occurrence that I mentioned
I might visit the pueblo, my lanky, graying friend looked at me like
I had completely lost my mind.
on Santa Cruz
was good. I was recently reunited with my girlfriend, Amanda, who I
hadnt seen in over 5 months, and we were in a place that many
people only get to visit in their dreams.
Breathing in dust and pouring out sweat, I trudged along the sultry
gravel road beneath my feet. I pressed on, walking a tightrope on the
Back from Guayaquil
I vividly remembered walking to the baggage claim in Quito a year
earlier, scared to death and wondering how I was ever going to get my
feet under me, let alone teach English.
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