Introducing grandkids to the outdoors experience

Published 6:00 am Saturday, October 24, 2015

Column: Woods & Water, by Dick Herfindahl

This past weekend, I headed north to our cabin along with my wife, Jean; son, Brad; and granddaughters Emma and Ava.

On the drive up we spotted three eagles perched on a wooden fence in a field along the highway. There was also a bald eagle standing alone in the field not far from the other three. Emma was excited and thought that was pretty cool, and it was quite a sight to behold.

Tribune columnist Dick Herfindahl’s granddaughter Ava enjoys the late fall boat ride while her older sister, Emma, fishes intently from the front of the boat. — Dick Herfindahl/Albert Lea Tribune

Tribune columnist Dick Herfindahl’s granddaughter Ava enjoys the late fall boat ride while her older sister, Emma, fishes intently from the front of the boat. — Dick Herfindahl/Albert Lea Tribune

Email newsletter signup

To say that the weather was less than perfect would be a gross understatement. Cold temperatures are one thing, but winds gusting to 40 mph out of the northwest really put a damper on almost any plans of fishing.

Brad really wanted to take the girls out in the boat because he wanted to introduce them to the fishing experience, but about the only thing that was feasible on this trip was taking our small fishing boat out on our little lake for a short time.

The wind died down some late Friday afternoon, so they donned warm clothes and Brad rowed the little boat around in hopes of finding fish. Unfortunately, there were no fish to be had, but the girls seemed to be having fun regardless.

We decided not to take the big boat to another lake because Brad knew that the girls wouldn’t want to stay out for very long. He was right about Ava: the thrill of being in the boat soon wore off, and she wanted to go back to the warm cabin. Emma, on the other hand, was a real trooper. She and her dad were soon rowing across the lake to take advantage of the wind by drifting the lake. Although no fish were to be had on this day, it was a heartwarming sight to behold. Brad had bought Ava a Barbie fishing pole, and she was sure proud of that first fishing pole.

The thing that made it seem so special to me was the fact that I know those girls will want to do it again, and by the look in Brad’s eyes, I know he can’t wait for next summer and a chance to repeat the experience in warmer weather.

We had a nice fire burning in the woodstove the whole time we were there, which kept the cabin nice and cozy. I was really proud of the girls, and knowing that they were enjoying the time that we were there made it all worthwhile.

Both of the girls love to be outdoors playing and exploring. Brad took them on long walks along the driveway, and Emma marveled at the colorful leaves that had just fallen off the maple trees scattered intermittently throughout the woods. She especially liked the red leaves and had to bring some in the cabin for Grandma to save. She also collected some pretty rocks and picked some long blades of grass to put in an empty water bottle and use for a centerpiece.

Yes, Emma is definitely an outdoors girl who loves exploring nature and is fascinated by rocks, bugs and any kind of plants or grass. She is not afraid of nightcrawlers and won’t hesitate to pick up a fallen butterfly or moth. I know that Brad is anxious to teach her to fish, and I am sure that once she gets the hang of it she will be hooked (pun intended).

That night, I told Emma that if her dad agreed, she could shoot the BB gun in the morning before we left for home. Brad worked with her the next morning, and it wasn’t long before she was hitting the target once again. I have given each of the grandsons a Red Ryder BB gun on their eighth birthday, so Emma has a couple of years to go. I wonder if they come in pink?

After their little fishing expedition on the cold lake, Brad told Emma she could practice her casting by putting some weight on the end of her line. It wasn’t long before she was hitting the target with almost every cast. I believe that Ava will follow suit when she gets a little older because she wants to do everything that her big sister does.

My grandsons are getting older, and spending time with Grandpa is not at the top of their list anymore. It’s funny what happens when they discover girls. I’m sure that if I was a duck hunter I could be hanging out with some of the grandsons, but that is one sport that I have never had the urge to try. Whenever I talk to someone who is an avid waterfowl hunter, they almost eat, sleep and breathe the sport.

I can see where hunting waterfowl can be addictive, and hearing and seeing a flock of geese flying overhead on a cool, crisp cloudy day gives me kind of a lonely feeling brought on by the late fall weather and the thought that we are almost at the end of my favorite season.

I have taken all of my grandsons fishing many times, and now it is time to teach those little girls about fishing. I don’t know who will benefit more from that experience: them or me. I really believe that hanging out with the grandkids makes me feel young at heart, even if the rest of my body doesn’t always agree.


Muskies meeting slated for early November

The November meeting of Crossroads Chapter 54 of Muskies Inc. will be at 7 p.m. Nov. 5 at the Eagles Club in Owatonna.

Meetings are the first Thursday of every month. The speaker will be Nate Hodgins from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources office in Windom. Meetings include updates, a raffle, door prizes, informative speakers and lots of musky talk. You need not be a member to attend. Bring a friend and help improve musky fishing in southern Minnesota.

Until next time, fall is a great time to be outside sharing the outdoors experience with our youth. It’s a rewarding experience that you can’t put a price tag on.

Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers because they are the reason we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.

Dick Herfindahl’s column appears in the Tribune each Sunday.